Farmland Transfer Participation, Livelihood Strategy Diversification and Farmers' Welfare Equality: Perspectives of Rural Household Differentiation and Gender Differences


Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

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Awarding Institution
  • Zhengfeng Zhang (External person) (External Supervisor)
  • Xiaoling ZHANG (Supervisor)
Award date11 Jul 2022


Farmland has multiple values and meanings to farmers and is closely related to their livelihood activities. Generally, the transfer of farmland is believed to promote farmers’ livelihoods, accelerate their occupational differentiation, and bring a wide range of benefits such as increased income. Although farmland transfer can help improve the efficiency of agricultural land factor allocation, the concentration of land rights from small to large farms implies unequal production resources on farmland among farmers, which may highlight the welfare gap among farmers owing to the heterogeneity of their livelihood capital. However, little attention has been paid to the impact of farmland transfer participation on rural household welfare differentiation and the effect of household transfer behaviour on individual household members of different genders for a long time. Then, in addition to promoting farmland allocation efficiency, are there any differential effects of farmland transfer participation on the livelihood activities and outcomes of different farming households and individual men and women? Do those different effects help narrow the welfare gap between households and genders, thereby reducing the rural development inequality?

In order to answer these questions, basing on the sustainable livelihood framework, this study explores the impact of farmland transfer on farmers’ livelihood strategies and the differentiation of their welfare achievement through the logical line of “farmland transfer participation + livelihood capital → livelihood strategies → livelihood welfare outcomes → welfare differentiation”, from the dual perspective of rural household and gender differences.

This study makes significant contributions to theories of sustainable livelihood, household production, gender difference and welfare economics. This study applies the sustainable livelihood approach (SLA) for systematically studying the impact of participating in household farmland transfer on livelihoods strategy engagement and welfare performance at household and individual farmer levels. Meanwhile, this study focuses on individual farmers and gender differences. We regard farmland transfer participation as a collective household behavior and use the household production theory to study the impact of household farmland transfer participation on the livelihood strategies and welfare outcomes of individual farmers within the household of different genders, which expands the application area of family economics theory. Additionally, based on theories of new welfare economics, this study applies Amartya Sen’s capability theory to construct a multidimensional evaluation system of farmers’ welfare and comprehensively evaluates the welfare effects of farmland transfer participation on different livelihood subjects.

Overall, this research work could deepen society’s understanding of inclusive growth and increase awareness of the issue of social equality in rural areas. Furthermore, the study findings will help policymakers formulate a strategic layout of farmland market vitalisation with our theoretical support and promote the sustainable inclusive development of the economy and society in the new round of rural revitalisation of China.

    Research areas

  • farmland transfer, livelihood diversification, farmer welfare, gender difference, sustainable livelihood framework