Grassland tenure reform and grassland quality in China

Document Type


Date of Original Version



This paper investigates the impact of land tenure reform on grassland quality in pastoral areas of China. Using nearly 40 years of remote sensing combined with survey data in the pastoral area of China, we find that the privatization of land use rights without physical (i.e., fences) or legal (i.e., certificates) protection has little impact on improving grassland quality measured by the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI). The enhanced privatization of grassland use rights with physical or legal security significantly increases grassland quality. We show that after the privatization of land use rights with security protection, grassland quality experienced about a 3% increase. Our results suggest that switching to privatized use rights without security protection from previously cooperatively managed land may undermine the positive environmental effects of land tenure reform.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

American Journal of Agricultural Economics