Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2023, Vol. 33 ›› Issue (8): 1702-1724.doi: 10.1007/s11442-023-2149-z

• Special Issue: Human-environment interactions and Ecosystems • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Impact of labor transfer differences on terraced fields abandonment: Evidence from micro-survey of farmers in the mountainous areas of Hunan, Fujian and Jiangxi

XIE Hualin1(), WU Qing2,*(), LI Xiubin3   

  1. 1. Institute of Ecological Civilization, Jiangxi University of Finance and Economics, Nanchang 330013, China
    2. School of Business, Jiangxi University of Science and Technology, Nanchang 330013, China
    3. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
  • Received:2023-04-10 Accepted:2023-05-25 Online:2023-08-25 Published:2023-08-29
  • Contact: * Wu Qing (1991-), PhD, specialized in land resource economy. E-mail:
  • About author:Xie Hualin (1979-), Professor, specialized in land resource economy and ecological economy. E-mail:
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(41930757);National Natural Science Foundation of China(41971243)


In recent years, the phenomenon of abandonment of cultivated land in mountainous areas has occurred frequently, and the problem of abandonment has become a focus of attention of government agricultural departments and academic circles. However, few studies have paid attention to the impact of differences in labor transfer on the abandonment behavior of farmers’ terraced fields. Based on this, this paper takes the terraced fields of Hunan, Fujian and Jiangxi provinces as the research area, combined with data from 1438 farmer households, and uses the Probit and Tobit models to analyzed the impact of the difference in the quantity, distance and quality of labor off-farm transfer on the decision-making and scale of terraced field abandonment of farmer households. The results show that: (1) The greater the quantity of labor transfer, the farther the transfer distance and the higher the quality of non-agricultural employment, can promote the decision of farmers to abandon terraced fields; (2) With the deepening of the degree of non-agricultural transfer, the scale of abandoned terraced fields by farmers in hilly and mountainous areas will also expand; (3) The distance and quality of labor transfer can strengthen the impact of labor transfer quantity on farmers’ decision to abandon land. To alleviate the phenomenon of abandoned terraced fields, the government should pay attention to the labor substitution role of agricultural service outsourcing and mechanization in mountainous areas. The government should actively promote the transformation of terraced fields into mechanized farming, improve the cultivated land transfer market, and encourage farmers to transfer terraced fields.

Key words: terraced fields abandonment, behavior mechanism of abandonment, labor transfer difference, hilly and mountainous area