Within the process of urban expansion through land requisition in China, farmers' de facto rights to collective land, including farmland and housing plots (zhaijidi), are forcibly acquired by the state and thereafter redistributed to private developers, to facilitate urban-based economic growth. Deprived of a secure livelihood, some landless farmers become trapped in poverty. Others find that the property rights restructuring in urbanised villages gives them an opportunity to earn rental income. However, the opportunities are not equally distributed and the processes are, in general, stacked against the interests of villagers. This paper analyses the impoverishment of farmers caught up in China's relentless urban expansion programme, using the perspectives of property rights and entitlements. It presents case studies of two villages in Xi'an to illustrate how farmers' entitlement sets and vulnerability to poverty have changed as a result of changes in land rights.
Urban Studies (2009) 46 (9) 1925-1949 [doi: 10.1177/0042098009106015]