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«Juanwen Yuan Thesis committee Thesis supervisor Prof. dr. A. Niehof Professor of Sociology of Consumers and Households Wageningen University Thesis ...»

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the ones who earn more) are younger people. The older people prefer to migrate circularly (local circular migration includes migration within the county, commuting, or migration for a shorter period than 6 months; see chapter 3). In general, while in the 1970s and 1980s cohorts the children migrate, in the 1990s and 2000s cohort this is done by the husband or wife.

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The working hours (including those of all adult labourers older than 18) spent on agricultural crops for the eldest cohort (1970s) are higher than those in other cohorts (see Table 7.4). The reason is that both husband and wife are working in agriculture and do not engage in circular migration or long-term migration. In addition, the labour force in the 1970s cohort is bigger. In the 1980s cohort, some husbands are migrating circularly, thus giving less time to agriculture. Not only is the labour force of the other two cohorts smaller, but they are focusing on migration activities as well. In this respect, however, there is no significant difference between the cohorts. The results for the total number of working hours for the households are similar, although it is significantly higher for the 1970s cohort as compared to the 1990s and 2000s cohorts. This cohort contains more labourers, as indicated above. With regard to human resources, we can thus conclude that while the education and the possibilities for earning remittances have increased over the cohorts, the actual number of labourers has gone down.

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7.1.2 Physical and financial resources After the overview of human resources, we will now focus on the physical and financial resources of the households in our sample. As can be seen in Table 7.5, the paddy field holding is significantly higher for the 1970s cohort as compared to the other cohorts (see Table 7.5). Fifteen of the 49 households in the 1970s cohort have paddy fields larger than eight mu (15 mu = 1 ha), while only two of the 41 households in the 1980s cohort have such an amount of paddy field. Because the land allocation was conducted in 1980 and 1981, only a few of the households in the 1980s cohorts got land, but they have had more children after they formed their own households. In the 1990s and 2000s cohorts, the households only got paddy fields from their parents. For upland, there is no significant difference between the cohorts. Upland is not as important as paddy fields are, because the staple food is rice, which is not easy for the villagers to give up. Upland, on the other hand, is easy to reclaim and where some villagers give it up, others will get their allotted land. In the first few years of the HRS, villagers reclaimed a lot of upland. Some households reclaimed the land once they were free in the non-busy season.

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There are several kinds of houses, ranking from the worst to the best quality: the soil wall house, the tile roof house, the concrete brick house, and the multi-storey house. Most houses are concrete houses with only one floor. There are fewer multistorey houses (see Table 7.6). Wood houses and soil walled houses are no longer common, but they were during the collective period. There are not many differences over the cohorts, although the households in the 1990s cohort do not seem to build very expensive houses. The reason for this may be that they have a higher financial burden because of their children’s educational costs. Most houses of the 1970s cohort seem of good quality, but some households still cannot afford to build a new house. The villagers spend a lot of money to build a house.

According to the survey data, most of the money from remittances and circular migration income is reserved for building houses. There are no significant differences in asset value and livestock value among the cohorts, even though the youngest cohort has a slightly higher asset value and the older cohorts have higher value livestock. It is clear that older cohorts pay more attention to animal raising than the younger cohorts do.

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There is no significant difference in total income across the cohorts (see Table 7.7).

The income comes mainly from circular migration, remittances, crop income, subsidy from the government, land reclamation subsidies (discussed in chapter 4), and salary. Income from livestock is not included, due to a lack of data. The households in the 2000s cohort have a comparatively higher income, even though this difference is not significant. The households in the 1980s cohort usually have income from both circular migration and long-term migration. Some households in

119Livelihood portfolios

this cohort have a higher income. Some households in the 1990s cohort have no labour force to earn cash; they solely depend on agriculture because they have to stay at home to take care of school going children. Their children are mostly in middle school and high school, so they cannot earn enough money. One man from the 1990s cohort said during the interview in Guntang village: “I have the chance to earn cash outside, but I prefer to stay at home and give my children a good education, so their future may improve. I do not want to go off to earn cash and have no time to take care of them”. The 1970s cohort is supposed to have a higher income because there are more migrants in this cohort, but it does not show in this table. The possible reason is that the younger migrated children in this cohort do not send many remittances. During several interviews, the villagers mentioned that the children would like to save money themselves. The crop income for the four cohorts is significantly different. There are 23 households (almost half of all households) in the 1970s cohort whose crop income is higher than 6,000 yuan, while there are only six such households in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s cohort, respectively. There are only four households in the 1970s cohort whose crop income is below 500 yuan, but there are 13 such households in the 1980s cohort, nine such households in the 1990s cohort, and ten such households in the 2000s cohort. The 1970s cohort households earn more income from agriculture, because they put more working hours in it and also have more land.

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Fewer than half of the households in all cohorts have savings (see Table 7.8).

Although in recent years, more villagers began to have savings, about half of the households still need to borrow money. The main purpose of borrowing money is to build houses, pay for medical expenses, and cover the costs of education.

Although they borrow money for building houses, households in the 2000s cohort usually have cash at hand. Households from the other cohorts, however, need to sell produce to get cash for urgent needs. As one man from the 1980s cohort said during FGD 2D: “The younger migrants have cash in their pocket and can use it anytime, but we do not have that”. According to the respondents in most FGDs, the 1990s cohort mostly borrows money to pay educational fees and build houses.

The 1980s cohort borrows money for curing illnesses, to pay educational costs and to build houses, while the 1970s cohort mostly borrows money to cover medical expenses and to build houses. At the same time, a few households have extra money to lend to others. All in all, there are no significant differences in the credit situation between the four cohorts.

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Generally, the differences between the households are not as big as they were several years ago. According to self-ranking discussions in the villages of Dabuyang and Dongkou, only a few households classified themselves as either rich or poor. The main reason is that the villagers have more opportunities to make their livelihoods. Each household could find an appropriate strategy according to its resources. Compared with other cohorts, the households from the 1970s and 2000s cohorts were more confident about their economic status in the village (see Table 7.9). Most households in these two cohorts thought that their status was not below average. Yet, for the 1980s and 1990s cohorts, less than half of the households mention that their status is in the middle, and there are relatively more households that mentioned they are below average. The reason is that the households in these two cohorts have more financial burdens, due to payments for education and building houses, while they cannot get support from their parents,

as opposed to the 2000s cohort. A wife from the 1990s cohort said in FGD 3A:

“These young married households got more dowries from their parents and they only need to spend money for daily needs, but we got less from our parents and we had to buy everything for ourselves when we set up an independent household”. Women of the 1980s cohort said in FGD 2C: “We just began to do better financially, but we have to think of the costs of our children’s marriages.

These children also just migrated and do not have a lot of remittances to send us.

We also were allotted less land than our brothers got, because we only had our own houses after the HRS”. Apparently, people evaluate their economic status mainly based on their house, land, and migrants.

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The land assets and financial resources are therefore comparable for all four cohorts, although there are some slight differences over the cohorts. The largest differences are found in land ownership and the number of migrants (and, thus, the height of remittances), but hardly any of the differences are statistically significant.

122 Chapter 7

7.1.3 Environmental resources Most households have tap water (see Table 7.10). There is no big difference among the cohorts. Ninety-five percent of the households can get water within 500 m. The road is accessible by car for 145 households, but in the 1990s cohort, fewer households have access to a road. Their houses are old and in an unfavourable location. The people have now begun to build houses near the main road, which is convenient for them because they use more small agricultural machines. The houses are increasingly more dispersed than they were in the past. The in-depth discussions during data collection show that people like to build houses in convenient locations, and when their land is not located there, they will exchange it with others. There are several rural industries in the municipality, but only a few household members work there. These industries include a pottery factory, a coalmining factory, an ore-mining factory, and a carbon coke factory. The workers are mainly from remote and poorer places in Guizhou province and the salaries are low, compared to eastern and more industrialized provinces. The households in the 1970s cohort contain the least factory workers, while those in the 1980s cohort contain the most. The 1980s cohort attended development projects more because they have better power sources compared to those in the 1970s cohort, and because they are more motivated. The main energy source is electricity, but most households use coal as their main energy source during winter. Only a few households in each cohort still use firewood as the main energy source all year round. These households are relatively poor and cannot afford the high prices for energy. In recent years, coal has become more expensive, causing even some relatively rich households to complain about the high prices. Older cohorts use firewood more often, while younger cohorts use less, because younger people can pay for electricity and do not like to spend time collecting firewood. Half of all households live more than four kilometres away from the market. Younger people like to ride motorbikes to the market and older people choose walking. According to FGD 3C and FGD 4C, younger women, however, have to walk when they do not live far from the market because they have to bring along their children. However, the younger women are able to ride motorbikes, while the older women are not.

According to the interviews with upland men, some older men still use the horse cart to travel to the market. They also use the horse cart to transport manure and to take the produce back home after harvesting. Although younger people prefer to use motorbikes, there are no significant differences between the cohorts.

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7.1.4 Social resources There are 92 households that participate in different kinds of organizations. More than half of the households in each cohort are engaged in organizations (see Table 7.11). There are no big differences between the cohorts. The main purpose of participating in organizations is to obtain credit. Some formal groups are intended to save labourers, such as the collective cattle-raising group (Sun, 2007). They also get together for some social activities, e.g. singing folk songs, dancing, organizing tours, or attending special festivals. Again, in this respect, there are no big differences over the cohorts. As indicated in Chapter 4, younger people and women have their own groups for getting credit and other purposes, but there are no big differences between the cohorts in this respect, either. Older people also form groups with younger people for many purposes, like obtaining credit, festival attendance, and so on. In addition to the credit groups, relatives are very important for the villagers to solve money shortage problems. If they need to borrow money, the bank is also important for the villagers because it is easier to borrow money from the bank than several years ago. In the past, some households in the 1980s

124 Chapter 7

and 1990s cohort have had to borrow money from a professional private moneylender because they urgently needed it, even though they had to pay higher interests. According to participant observations and interviews, professional private moneylenders were more common in the past than they are nowadays, because villagers generally have more money (see Table 7.12).

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Sixty-six households (53.2%) mentioned that they do not have difficulties when they need to borrow money. There are not many differences between the cohorts.

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