Land tenure reform and grassland degradation in Inner Mongolia, China

Min Liu, Liesbeth Dries, Wim Heijman, Xueqin Zhu, Xiangzheng Deng, Jikun Huang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Since the start of the land tenure reform in the pastoral areas of China in the 1980s, grassland use rights have increasingly been assigned to individual households. However, this period has also been accompanied by extensive grassland degradation in China, which has raised the question of whether a tragedy of privatisation has occurred. This paper investigates the impact of land tenure reform on the changes in grassland condition, using data from 60 counties in Inner Mongolia between 1985 and 2008. A fixed effects model is employed to control for time-invariant factors. Two alternative model specifications in terms of land tenure reform and time-variant factors are conducted to verify the robustness of the estimation results. The results show that land tenure reform did not affect the grassland condition significantly, and the major drivers of grassland degradation include the land use change and the increase in market demand (meat prices). Thereby, we provide empirical evidence that the privatisation of grasslands did not cause grassland degradation in Inner Mongolia, China.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-198
JournalChina Economic Review
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019


  • China
  • Fixed effects model
  • Grassland degradation
  • Land tenure reform
  • Privatisation


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