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Does rural labor outward migration reduce household forest investment? The experience of Jiangxi, China

Xie, Fangting, Zhu, Shubin, Cao, Mengtian, Kang, Xiaolan, Du, Juan
Forest policy and economics 2019 v.101 pp. 62-69
economic theory, forest land, forest management, forests, households, income, issues and policy, labor, models, periodicity, surveys, transportation, villages, China
This study examines the impact of rural labor outward migration, a prominent phenomenon in China, on household forest management using the appropriate economic theory and survey data of 500 households over seven years (2011–2017) in Jiangxi. We measured households' investment in forest management in terms of labor use and cash outlay. Considering the potential endogeneity of labor migration and periodicity of forestry, we built our Tobit models using the instrumental variable method, which was easily accommodated with our panel data. Our results indicated that households were more cautious on cash outlay in forest management, compared with their labor use, and that migration had an overall negative effect on both labor use and cash outlay. Further, migration of the household head and the number of migrants negatively influenced forest investment. The off-farm income positively affected labor use in forestry, while it negatively affected cash outlay. In addition, households with more labor, more forestland, and more forestry income invested more in forest management. Village factors, such as a larger population and better transportation, promoted households' investment in forest management. Our analysis provides important insights for policymakers to formulate and implement more pertinent policies to support rural forest management.