Early-life experience of land reform and entrepreneurship

Yuanyuan Chen, Haining Wang, Zhiming Cheng, Russell Smyth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


We examine the long-run impact of land reform experience in childhood and adolescence on entrepreneurship later in life. To do so, we take advantage of village-level variation in the Household Responsibility System (HRS) reform in China that transformed land property rights from a communal system into an individualized tenure system. We find that early-life exposure to land reform increases the probability of becoming an entrepreneur in adulthood. This positive association is mainly driven by exposure to the HRS increasing the propensity for solo and necessity entrepreneurship. We also find considerable heterogeneity in the long-run impact of early-life HRS reform exposure across subsamples. Females, individuals from low-income families, individuals with less-educated parents and individuals in the central region are more likely to become entreprenuers following early-life exposure to land reform. Overall, while previous research has found that land titling reform in China significantly increased business creation in rural areas, our findings imply that the positive impact of land reform on entrepreneurial ventures is likely to be understated if its long-run impact on those exposed to land reform early in life on the likelihood of their becoming entrepreneurs later in life is not considered.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101966
Number of pages17
JournalChina Economic Review
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


  • China
  • Early-life experience
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Household responsibility system
  • Land reform

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