Why do villagers in China's most densely populated and productive agricultural regions use scarce farmland to construct housing? And why has the Chinese government, which has legislated to conserve arable land so as to ensure national food security, been unable to control housing construction in the country-side? Previous studies of the factors motivating the rural housing boom tend to explain this either as a reaction against insecure property rights in land and a speculative response to emergent market opportunities, or as a social mobility tactic. This paper presents interview and survey data from four villages in Zhejiang province that show that property rights in land do not affect villagers' housing construction and market incentives play only a minor role in propelling house-building. The social and demographic aspirations of families and the reconfiguration of rural households' economic activities are major stimuli of "the rural house-building craze."
|Journal||The China Quarterly|
|Publication status||Published - 2002|