›› 2013, Vol. 23 ›› Issue (6): 1041-1051.doi: 10.1007/s11442-013-1061-3

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Underlying motivation for land use change:A case study on the variation of agricultural factor productivity in Xinjiang, China

ZHU Huiyi   

  1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
  • Received:2012-10-30 Revised:2013-04-08 Online:2013-12-15 Published:2013-11-14
  • About author:Zhu Huiyi (1966-), Ph.D, specialized in land use and land cover change. E-mail: zhuhy@igsnrr.ac.cn
  • Supported by:

    National Basic Research Program of China, No.2009CB421307; National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41171087


Understanding the driving forces and mechanism of land use change is a key issue in land change science, and has received much attention over the past 30 years. While many driving forces have been identified, the mechanism of land use change is still unclear, mainly because of limited knowledge of the underlying motivation for land use change. Traditionally, the underlying motivation for land use change was ascribed to people's pursuit of satisfying their own demands or that of profit maximization. However, those theoretical hypotheses combine all productive factors without highlighting certain predominant factor. In this paper, a case study was conducted on the variation of land productivity, capital productivity and labor productivity in agricultural land use in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China. The case study revealed that only labor productivity presented a long-term increasing trend in regional cotton and grain production. This result implies that people's pursuit of increasing labor productivity is probably the underlying motivation for land use change. Additional details identified in agricultural and non-agricultural land use in China support the above implication. As labor productivity is a determinant of people's living standards, increasing labor productivity means improving people's living standards. Therefore, it is concluded that land use change results from people's pursuit of increasing labor productivity in a changing environment.

Key words: land use change, mechanism, motivation for land use change, trend analysis, labor productivity