An economic-psychological perspective on perceived land tenure security: Evidence from rural eastern China

Chen Qian, Gerrit Antonides, Nico Heerink, Xueqin Zhu, Xianlei Ma*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Land tenure security perceived by farmers is generally considered an important precondition for rural development. In this paper, we first propose a holistic framework of land tenure security that integrates Van Gelder's tripartite view of tenure security with Ho's credibility thesis. Following this framework, we empirically investigate the interrelation between the cognitive and the affective components of tenure security perceptions, and analyze how these perceptions are influenced by psychological factors, such as personality traits and economic preferences. We apply the generalized structural equation modeling to a dataset collected in 2019 among 1359 rice farmers in three provinces in eastern China. We found that the cognitive component shows an inverse “U-shape” relationship with the affective component, indicating farmers are not necessarily worried about the possible future land reallocation even if they think it is very likely to take place and that the widely used indicator, i.e., estimated probability of land reallocation, is thereby not sufficient to reflect a farmer's overall perceived tenure security. We also found that individual differences in personality traits (e.g., neuroticism) can help explain observed variations in perceived tenure security. The results showing perceived land tenure security of rural farmers also comprises nonequivalent “feeling” and “thinking” components and their influencing psychological factors have important implications for future research and policy making on rural institutional development.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106294
JournalLand Use Policy
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022


  • Generalized structural equation modeling
  • Holistic framework
  • Land reallocation
  • Perceived tenure security
  • Personality traits


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