I recently received the Lincoln Institute China Program International Fellowship to conduct the project “Land Tenure and the Health of Children: Evidence from Rural China.” The project will use the 2003 “Ban of Land Adjustment” in China as a natural experiment to investigate whether secured land tenure improves children’s health outcomes. Unpacking the relationship between land tenure and children’s health helps understand the welfare effect of property rights, intra-household resource allocation, and the determinants of human capital gaps across regions.
I previously conducted two rounds of field surveys with 1,773 rural households and 7,251 individuals across three provinces in China, and will follow up with another round of survey, to document villages’ land adjustments, individuals’ land tenure holdings and children’s health outcomes. In this research, I will use a difference-in-difference framework to compare the health outcomes of children in villages with land adjusted right before the 2003 Ban (so that the newly born has land tenure), and those with scheduled land adjustment after 2003 (so that the newly born does not have land tenure due to the adjustment ban).
Specifically, this research will investigate whether land tenure can help girls obtain better health outcomes, as girls are disadvantaged in household decision-making with their well-being frequently sacrificed in many countries including China. The results of this project will inform land policy reform involving tenure security; entitling a household to land tenure may not suffice, an individualized land tenure system may be more beneficial for empowering children in intra-household bargaining, improving their well-being, and brightening the future of a nation with the accumulation of higher-quality human capital.
Dr. Kerry Fang is an assistant professor in the Department of Urban & Regional Planning.
The feature image is from Wikimedia Commons.