The bittersweet fruits of industrialization in rural China: The cost of environment and the benefit from off-farm employment uri icon

abstract

  • While it is widely accepted that industrialization has brought both environmental pollution and economic growth in rural areas of China, very little is known about whether the negative effects of industrial pollution on rural residents have been proportionally offset by positive effects due to improvements in off-farm income. This paper improves our understanding of these tradeoffs by conducting an empirical analysis based on a set of nationwide panel data collected in 2008 and 2012 and covering five provinces, 101 villages, and 2020 households. Evidence is found to suggest that it is not always the case that rural households that are affected by pollution reap the off-farm employment benefits associated with industrialization. Specifically, although industrial pollution incidence is found to be positively related with the level of local off-farm employment, this relationship is statistically insignificant when migrant labor is included. It can be explained as areas that less economically benefited from industrialization tent to have more labors migrated out and the average annual wage income of one migrant labor is much higher than that of local off-farm labor. (C) 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

publication date

  • 2016
  • 2016