Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 18, Issue 7, pp 2183–2196 | Cite as

Are farmers’ adaptations enhancing food production? Evidence from China

  • Yangjie WangEmail author
  • Xiaohong Chen
Original Article


A primary goal of studying climate change adaptation is to identify the adaptation options that are used to improve crop productivity or reduce the negative impacts of climate change. Many of the adjustments in farm management that farmers adopt do not necessarily represent true adaptations to climate change, an issue often ignored in existing literature and resulting in a risk that policy makers are misled to think that adaptation is easier than it actually is, and thereby underestimate the challenge that climate change presents. The overall goal of this study is to identify whether farmers’ adoptions are enhancing food production and adapting to climate change. The identification uses a plot-level panel from a survey of 619 rural households in three provinces in China and county-level weather data. With the use of plot and county-by-year fixed effects as well as instrumental variable approaches, our estimates show that the autonomous adoptions are not effective in improving crop yields. This implies that farmers’ adoptions cannot be always considered adaptations to climate change. The paper provides a possible explanation for the results and concludes with policy implications.


Climate impacts Adaptation Adoption Food production Crop yield China 


Funding information

This research received financial support from the National Natural Sciences Foundation of China (71873148, 71503276, 71431006), Ministry of Education (16JZD013), and Sciences Foundation of Hunan in China (2016JJ3156, 16YBA362).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of BusinessCentral South UniversityChangshaChina
  2. 2.Resource-conserving & Environment-friendly Society and Ecological Civilization 2011 Collaborative Innovation Center of Hunan ProvinceChangshaChina
  3. 3.Key Laboratory of Hunan Province for Mobile Business IntelligenceHunan University of CommerceChangshaChina

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