The Impact of Intensive Farming on Land Tenure: Evidence from Confucius' Manors (1759–1901)
China Economic Review 30 (2014) 279–289
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During the Ming and Qing Dynasties, fixed-rent tenancy gradually replaced sharecropping as the
dominant form of land tenancy in China. This paper hypothesizes that the secular shift in land tenure
was an adaptation to the change in land utilization system towards more intensive cropping.
To test the hypothesiswe exploit a dataset gathered fromthe rent collection archives of Confucius'
Lineage in the Qing Dynasty. We estimate the effect of the adoption of wheat–soybean double
cropping on the choice of tenancy contract, share contract versus fixed-rent contract. We find
that double cropped plots were 23.7% more likely to be managed under fixed-rent contracts
than annually cropped plots. Our findings are consistent with the implications of the factor endowment
theory. The adoption of double croppingmade farmingmore complex and placed greater
demands on managerial inputs of tenants. In the absence of a factor market for managerial
ability, optimal tenancy contract had adapted to provide tenantswith a greater incentive to supply
managerial inputs than had been the case in sharecropping arrangements.