Socio-economic driving forces of arable land conversion: A case study of Wuxian City, China

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Geography and Geology


This research examines the impact of the farmland protection policy institutionalized for China's paddy field conversion in the mid-1990s. This paper demonstrates an integrated research method for studying land use-cover changes from the perspective of the interactions between policy changes and socioeconomic factors. The integrated method deploys remote sensing to obtain accurate measures of paddy field changes and applies multiple regression analysis to explore the interactions between paddy field change and socioeconomic factors. It constructs a policy-determined categorical regression analysis to investigate whether the policy change impacts paddy field conversion and how the policy interacts with other socioeconomic factors in affecting paddy field losses. A geographic information system is deployed to interpret the spatial patterns of the interactions. The case study in Wuxian City (Jiangsu Province) concludes that there is a distinct policy shift between 1990-1995 and 1995-2000. The policy of regulating farmland losses practiced in the mid-1990s has a significant role of slowing down paddy field conversion. But the success has been partial and was largely compromised in the rural areas due to the compounding forces of policies to promote rapid economic growth and better living standards. Moreover, continued rural to urban migration, rural economic development and rapid urban expansion represent the primary forces that lead to the conversion of paddy fields into non-agricultural uses. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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