The Impact of Changing Agricultural Technology on Land Tenancy in Preindustrial China: Evidence from Confucius's Manors (1759-1901)
Helen He Yang
George Mason University - Center for Study of Public Choice
June 1, 2012
During the Ming and Qing Dynasties, fixed-rent tenancy gradually replaced sharecropping as the dominant form of land tenancy in China. This paper posits that the shift in land tenancy was generated by the technological movement from annual cropping to multiple cropping. To test the hypothesis we exploit a unique dataset gathered from the rent collection archives of Confucius's Lineage in the Qing Dynasty. We estimate the effect of the adoption of wheat-soybean double cropping on the choice of tenancy contract, share contract versus fixed-rent contract. We find that double cropped plots were 30% more likely to be managed under fixed-rent contracts than annually cropped plots. Our findings are consistent with the implications of the factor imperfections theory. The adoption of double cropping made farming more complex and placed greater demands on managerial abilities of tenants. In the absence of a factor market for managerial ability, optimal tenancy contract had adapted to provide tenants with a greater incentive to supply managerial inputs than had been the case in sharecropping arrangements.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 28
Keywords: double cropping, share tenancy, fixed-rent tenancy, factor market imperfection
JEL Classification: N55, O33, O13, Q15, Q16working papers series
Date posted: June 11, 2012
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