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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 villagers are willing to help each other in difficult times. Only one respondent in all the cohorts said that he is not sure whether the neighbours would like to work with him. The others are sure that their neighbours will work with them.

Most villagers mentioned during most interviews that the biggest worry when lending money to others is that they might not be able to reimburse. This was a

125Livelihood portfolios

serious problem in the past, which has improved nowadays because more villagers have extra money to lend to others.

Siblings are very important for rural households. They help each other in many ways, such as providing free labour, money, information, working opportunities, and other important needs. The number of siblings on the husband’s side living in the same village is different for each cohort: the older cohorts have more siblings living in the same village than the younger cohorts do, but this difference is not highly significant (see Table 7.13). The number of the husband’s siblings living in other villages is not significant, even though households in the 1980s and 1990s cohorts have more of them. The people who belong to these two cohorts were born mainly during the 1960s and 1970s, when a birth wave took place in the aftermath of the famine of 1958. For this reason, their number of siblings is higher than for the 1970s cohort. Furthermore, some siblings of the people in the 1970s cohort who have passed away were not included in the table.

In the 1980s, family planning was implemented, causing people in the 2000s cohort to have fewer siblings, even though this difference is not very significant. The number of siblings on the wife’s side living in the same village differs over the cohorts: the youngest cohort has fewer siblings in the same village. In most of the FGDs, respondents mentioned that more young women got married outside their village because they had migrated and did not need to be introduced to their husbands by their siblings, as was common in the past. In remote villages, on the other hand, wives and their husbands may come from the same village. Most siblings are engaged in agriculture, but the older cohorts have more siblings who are government officials. In the past, there were more reasons and opportunities for villagers to work for the government, such as military retirement, government recruitment, or graduation from college, but these have decreased. The younger rural people can only find work for the government if they finish their higher education. Usually, the siblings who work in the government help their relatives a lot. However, since younger cohorts have more migrated siblings than the older cohorts have, they derive less benefit from this. In the key informant interview in Dabuyang village, most respondents pointed out one particular household in the 1970s cohort as once being the richest household in the village. This household became rich when the brothers’ friends lent him 5000 yuan to buy a grainprocessing machine, which was rare in the 1980s. His two brothers are working in the county bureau and have many rich friends. Yet, overall, the social resources do not differ much over the cohorts.

–  –  –

7.2 Livelihood activities Villagers nowadays have more opportunities to diversify their livelihoods, compared to the collective period. There is more rural industry, both throughout China and in nearby places, which provides the villagers with opportunities to engage in non-farming activities. Migrated farmers also provide the farmers who stay behind with opportunities to rent land. The resources for information on how to set up new livelihood activities have increased, since a larger number of villagers have migrated and bring back new information. All in all, opportunities for both farming and non-farming activities are increasing for all households.

7.2.1 Farming Farming is the villagers’ major livelihood activity in Kaizuo. Even though their income from migration is increasing, most people still regard agriculture as their main livelihood activity (see Table 7.14). Only four households in the 1980s cohort, two households in the 1990s cohort, and eight households in the 2000s cohort regard migration (including local circular migration) as their main livelihood activity. The difference between the cohorts is significant. Households in the 1970s cohort mainly work in farming, while those in the 2000s cohort focus more on migration. The older couples from the 1970s cohort expressed the opinion that they work in farming for survival because they were older and could not migrate. They also expressed that they were able to take care of their children’s land, houses, and grandchildren, if necessary. In that way, their children can earn money and do not have to worry about anything else. Except migration and circular migration, nonfarming activities are not very common. Some households earn an income from trading, transportation, running a small shop, making wine, and renting out land, but those are not their main livelihood activities. Only one household in the 1990s cohort mentioned during the interview in Dongkou village that their main income comes from transportation and running a shop. This household has no rice paddy fields, because they moved back to the wife’s natal village but could not get land from her parents according to customary law. Her husband’s land is in his village of origin, too far away. She said that this village was better than her husband’s village. She has only one brother and her parents were happy that she lived with them. She got a parcel of upland from her parents, but this is too small to feed the household. She is running a grocery shop and her husband is working in transportation and has his own truck.

–  –  –

One-way ANOVA test Superscripts with the same letter across the row are not significantly different from each other (alpha =5%).

*** significant at the 1% level.

Source: Farm household survey, 2008.

The main income source of household heads for the 1970s cohort is farming, but the household heads of the other three cohorts have more than one source of income. Besides farming, their income mostly comes from migration (including circular migration). The younger cohorts prefer migration, while the older cohorts are still mainly focused on farming. This is significantly different among the cohorts (see Table 7.14). This table also shows that the households from the 2000s cohort have the highest remittance while the households of the 1990s cohort have the lowest even though the differences between the four cohorts are not significant.

The reason maybe that the households from the 1990s cohort have the a lower labour force compared to the 2000s cohort even though both cohorts are mainly migrating long-term. Another possible reason is that some migrants are above 35 years old and could not find a better paying job. The income from circular work for the 1970s cohort is the lowest, which can be explained by the fact that older couples mainly focus on farming and their children are mainly migrating long-term. The

129Livelihood portfolios

1980s cohort has the highest income for land converted. This may be due to the fact that this cohort reclaimed more land in the 1980s because they had fewer land at that time. Now, the land is no longer so important for them and they converted it to forest and get subsidies. Other income sources over the cohorts are not significantly different even though the youngest cohort has the highest.

For Table 7.15 (and later on also for Table 7.18) the dependent variable is dichotomous. Officially one cannot use dichotomous variables within Ordinary Least Squares regression (OLS). This has to do with one of the assumptions of the method, that all variables are measured at interval (or at least ordinal) level.

Strictly speaking the dependent variables in my analyses are measured at a nominal level. However, because the variables are coded 1 and 0, a nominal measurement constitutes no problem. If the coefficients are positive (and significant) this will still mean that more of the independent variable leads to more of the dependent variable. Because of the clear interpretation of the coefficients in OLS regression, I prefer this method to other, normally more appropriate methods of analysis (see also Moerbeek, 2001).

Table 7.15 shows that farming has a significant relationship with the gender of the household head, land rent, and livestock value.

Female-headed households earn less income from farming. The reason is that when husbands migrate, their wife is the household head. These households also rent out their land. Households with more migrants have a higher asset value, because their farming income is low compared to their income from migration. If they migrate, they rent out their land. Those households with higher livestock value will put more emphasis on farming because their focus is not on migration.

–  –  –

The income from crops is highly related to the rice paddy landholding and livestock value (see Table 7.16). Rice and maize are the most important crops, as mentioned in Chapter 4. These two products used to be the main income resources.

Nowadays, there is more rice and maize to sell because the number of migrants is higher, which causes a decrease in consumption. Yet, villagers also earn crop income from tobacco, watermelon, and other cash crops. Their income from rice is lower compared with those from cash crops, even though these cash crops do not occupy a lot of land. Households with large paddy field holdings usually cannot get a higher income because they have less upland to plant cash crops. The villagers sell more rice, but keep maize for animal feed. They have more maize left to feed more animals than they did in the past. Those with less income from crops do not have enough maize to raise animals, and their livestock value is lower, too.

Some households even have to buy maize to feed their animals.

–  –  –

7.2.2 Land use In recent years, villagers have begun to rent land more often. About one third of the households in the sample rent land. In the past, only a few households rented land. More households in the 1970s and 2000s cohorts rented out land, while those in the 1980s and 1990s cohort rented land. There is a significant difference in land rent, but not in land rented out for all the cohorts. Households that rented out land usually rented out to several other households, so more households rented land and fewer households rented out land. Households that rented out land usually do not have sufficient labour force, while those renting land do not necessarily have extra labourers. A possible explanation for this is that they had less land but did not have other sources of income. They wanted to get more income from land, even though the benefits from farming are lower.

–  –  –

As discussed in Chapter 4 and Chapter 6, people began to abandon paddy fields from 2002 onward, because of labour shortages. Thirty households mentioned that as a reason. Paddy fields are more important for the rural households than upland, because they provide the staple food, rice. Villagers do not leave paddy fields idle but rent them to others to cultivate. Uplands, on the other hand, are abandoned because people are not very interested in them. Some households even ask others to use it for free. Some households have a shortage of labourers and put their rice paddy fields in the first place. A larger number of households in the 1980s and 1990s cohorts rent paddy fields, but the difference with the other cohorts is not significant. Similar to what Feng (2008a) has found, both younger and older household heads are less likely to rent land. There is a significant difference in land rented out for all the cohorts. The younger cohorts like to rent more land and use it to cultivate cash crops, especially in the 1990s cohort. Households in the 1970s cohort do not rent out upland and usually plant diverse crops, so they do not have to work so intensively during the busy season.

132 Chapter 7

The amount of rented land has a significant relationship with the total landholding, but land rented out does not. Feng (2008a) also says that both young and old households tend to work and stay on the farm. This research shows, however, that they also more often rent out land. The reason is that households renting land are households that have less land to begin with. Land-renting households are those that migrate and do not necessarily have less land. The amount of rented out land has a significant relationship with the age and gender of the household head. The reason is that the men in those households usually migrate and women become the household head (see Table 7.18).

–  –  –

Rice, maize, and rapeseed are the three main crops for most households. Rapeseed is grown after the rice or maize are harvested. Rapeseed is used for edible oil. The yields of rice and rapeseed differ significantly between the four cohorts, but the yields of maize do not (see Table 7.19). The households of the 1970s cohort have the highest yields of rice and rapeseed, and significantly higher than those in the 1980s cohort. The reason is that households of the 1980s cohort have the lowest paddy landholding and could not get higher yields even if they rent land. For both rice and maize, the average yield per mu for all cohorts shows no significant differences even though the older cohorts have a little higher average yield. One thing is that the 1990s cohort has a lower average yield for both crops, for which lower labour force still can be regarded as a factor.

–  –  –

Other important crops are potato, soybean and other leguminous plants, sweet potato, sunflower, tobacco, watermelon, and other fruits. All these crops are cultivated in the upland, not in the paddy fields. Older cohorts plant more diversified crops, while the younger cohorts plant more tobacco and watermelon.

The income from different crops differs across cohorts, but not significantly.

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