Perceived land tenure security in rural Xinjiang, China: The role of official land documents and trust

Fangping Rao, Max Spoor, Xianlei Ma, Xiaoping Shi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


The role of formal tenure institutions in reducing land tenure insecurity has been long debated in the development economics literature. This study examines and compares the key determinants of perceptions of security of tenure over contract land and wasteland, two types of land that are characterized by tenure being formally and informally ascribed. The material is drawn from the Chinese region of Xinjiang, an ethnically heterogeneous region which has more complex tenure systems than elsewhere in China. Empirical estimations based on a survey of 352 households, complemented by interviews with key informants, demonstrate that formal institutions (measured by official land documents) do not significantly contribute to households' perceptions of tenure security on either type of land, and that both interpersonal trust and political trust significantly enhance perceived tenure security on either land type in our research area. The empirical evidence further shows that perceptions of tenure security on both types of land are more sensitive to trust towards village cadres than trust in villagers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101038
JournalChina Economic Review
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Authors are grateful for the helpful comments and suggestions by Arie Kuyvenhoven, Nico Heerink, and anonymous referees. We also greatly appreciate the financial supports by the National Key R&D Program (Grant 2016YFE0103100), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grants 71603121, 71573134, and 71373127), the China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (Grant 2016M601839), the Discipline Innovative Engineering Plan ?111 project? (Grant B17024), and the Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) (Grant 07CDP028).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier Inc.


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