Smartphone Use and Income Growth in Rural China: Empirical Results and Policy Implications

Wanglin Ma, Quentin Grafton, Alan Renwick

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    The diffusion of mobile information and communication technologies (ICTs) has important implications for rural economic development. Many studies have investigated the potential contributions of mobile ICTs to agricultural production and poverty reduction, but have failed to consider the wider income effects of the use of updated ICTs, such as smartphones. Our findings, based on household-level survey data from rural China and an endogenous switching regression model, indicate that gender, farmers' education, farm size, and off-farm work participation are the main drivers of smartphone use. Further, we find that smartphone use increases farm income, off-farm income and household income substantially and there is a statistically significant difference in the income effects between male and female users of smartphones. Possible policy interventions from our findings include: (1) support to increase use of smartphones by households headed by women; and (2) a 'win-win' approach to rural development that includes improved hard (roads) and soft (education) infrastructure and encompasses the increased use of smartphones so as to increase both off-farm employment opportunities and farm and off-farm incomes.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)713-736
    JournalElectronic Commerce Research
    Publication statusPublished - 2018


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