Land Management in Rural China and Its Gender Implications
Women are an important mainstay of agricultural production in China, though their access to land is characterized by even greater ambiguity than that of their male counterparts. As part of its path toward liberalization, China undertook agricultural land management policy reforms that were aimed at increasing the security of land tenure rights, but these reforms have paradoxically exacerbated the uncertainty surrounding women’s claims to land. Utilizing sample survey data collected from 412 rural households in Shaanxi and Hunan provinces in 2002, this paper documents and analyzes gender differences in land allocations. The findings of this study shed light on the degree to which community characteristics coupled with current local practices (such as frequency of reallocation) influence gender disparities. Results suggest that a growing number of women experience loss of contract land coincident with marrying, and this trend may be expected to increase given the current direction of land policy.