Journal of Productivity Analysis

, Volume 45, Issue 3, pp 247–259 | Cite as

Migration, local off-farm employment, and agricultural production efficiency: evidence from China

  • Jin Yang
  • Hui Wang
  • Songqing Jin
  • Kevin Chen
  • Jeffrey Riedinger
  • Chao Peng


This paper studies the effect of local off-farm employment and migration on the technical efficiency of rural households’ crop production using a five-year panel dataset from more than 2000 households in five Chinese provinces. While there is not much debate about the positive contribution of migration and local off-farm employment to China’s economy, there is increasing concern about the potential negative effects of moving labor away from agriculture on China’s future food security. This is a critical issue as maintaining self-sufficiency in grain production will be critical for China to feed its huge population in the future. Several papers have studied the impact of migration on production and have yielded ambiguous results. But the impact of migration on technical efficiency is rarely studied. Methodologically, we incorporate the correlated random-effects approach into the inefficiency analysis of the standard stochastic production frontier model to control for unobservable factors that are correlated with migration and off-farm employment decisions and technical efficiency. The most consistent result that emerged from our econometric analysis is that neither migration nor local off-farm employment has a negative effect on the technical efficiency of grain production, which does not support the widespread notion that vast-scale labor migration could negatively affect China’s future food security.


Migration Local off-farm Agriculture Efficiency China 

JEL Classification

D24 O12 O13 



The authors would like to acknowledge the support from NSFC71361140370, the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions and Markets led by IFPRI, and the National Social Science Fund of China (Grant No. 13CGL085). Financial supports from Michigan State University’s Competitive Discretionary Fund Program (09-CDFP-1965), the Office of the Provost and AgbioResearch are also greatly appreciated. The authors are also grateful to Peter Schmidt and Zhengfei Guan for valuable input on the paper’s econometric method. All errors remain the responsibility of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jin Yang
    • 1
  • Hui Wang
    • 2
  • Songqing Jin
    • 3
    • 4
  • Kevin Chen
    • 5
  • Jeffrey Riedinger
    • 6
  • Chao Peng
    • 7
  1. 1.School of EconomicsHuazhong University of Science and TechnologyWuhanChina
  2. 2.Department of Economics, Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource EconomicsMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  3. 3.Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource EconomicsMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  4. 4.School of EconomicsCentral University of Finance and EconomicsBeijingChina
  5. 5.International Food Policy Research Institute, Beijing OfficeBeijingChina
  6. 6.University of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  7. 7.Research Center for Rural Economy, Ministry of AgricultureBeijingChina

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