Transition of rural household economy in a village of Southern Anhui Province of China 1927–1992
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Based on primary sources pertaining to the village of Zhaitan, this thesis studied the economic transition of households in a village in the south of Anhui Province as they went through the revolutions, political movements and reforms of the twentieth century. The transition was divided into four periods, corresponding to four of the chapters of this text. The first period was from 1927 to 1949, on which I depicted the household economy in a village that had not yet experienced intervention by the powers of the state; the second period was from 1949 to 1962, during which the Land Reform and the cooperative movement were the most significant revolutions in the rural area. The third period was 1963–1978, when the commune system was adjusted in response to the failure of the Great Leap Forward and was continued stably from then on. The last period was the reform period which ran from late-1978 until 1992. During this period, the collective system was abandoned and state control on the rural economy was gradually loosened. In the course of transition of the household economy in Zhaitan, I focused on the conflict between the growing population and the limited resources of the village. Before the 1949, the solution was to go into businesses outside the village; in the 30 years after 1949, under the framework of the collective system and the control of the state command, the peasants managed to develop labour-intensive production to meet the needs of the growing population; in the reform period after 1978, with the overall withdrawal of state intervention in rural areas, the tension was finally released through the market and the development of industry. The experience of Zhaitan reveals that the change of land ownership did not make a difference to the economic condition of most households if the land area was much less than what was needed. It also shows that the collective system of agriculture, however, could promote agricultural production, and thus brought about positive effects on the condition of each household through centralised management of the labour force and the land. Last, but not least, the overall boost to rural household economy is relient on the development of the industry to complete the transfer of rural workforce from the agriculture.