Purpose – This paper therefore aims at systematically estimating the agricultural trade induced farm employment effects in China. Design/methodology/approach – Using detailed agricultural trade and production data during 1994-2009, the authors estimate the “labor contents” of agricultural trade flows and use these estimates to compute the farm employment effects. Findings – The authors find that China's agricultural trade has indeed generally developed along its widely believed comparative advantages and disadvantages; however, the farm employment “creation” effect due to labor-intensive exports has actually been dominated by the employment “substitution” effect due to increased land-intensive imports, thereby mostly resulting in negative net farm employment in the post-WTO accession era. Originality/value – Findings from this first systematic attempt to estimate the trade-induced farm employment effects do not lend support to the popular notion that increased agricultural trade would help increase farm employment and have important implications for evaluating current and future trade policy in China and elsewhere.
China Agricultural Economic Review, 2013, Vol 5, Issue 2, p. 180-196