Do Secure Land Use Rights Reduce Fertility? The Case of Meitan County in China

James Kai-sing Kung


Based on the belief that collective landownership is pro-natalist, the Chinese government experimented in a remote southwestern county (Meitan) in 1987 with the practice of freezing land reallocations in response to demographic change for twenty years. Premising on the norm of a two-children family in rural China, evidence suggests that demand for the third child is attributable to strong son preference. Neither secured land rights nor family planning policy can curb such a proclivity. The experiment has, however, stimulated an active land rental market, which may have long-term profound implications for the development of private land rights and fertility behavior. (JEL J13, Q15, P48)

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