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Urban economic development, changes in food consumption patterns and land requirements for food production in China

Li Jiang (School of Economics, Renmin University of China, Beijing, China)
Karen C. Seto (School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA)
Junfei Bai (College of Economics and Management, China Agricultural University, Beijing, China)

China Agricultural Economic Review

ISSN: 1756-137X

Article publication date: 5 May 2015




The impact of dietary changes associated with urbanization is likely to increase the demand for land for food production. The purpose of this paper is to examine the impact of urban economic development on changes in food demand and associated land requirements for food production.


Based on economic estimates from the Almost Ideal Demand System, feed conversion ratios, and crop yields, the authors forecast and compare future dietary patterns and land requirements for two types of urban diets in China.


The results show that the expenditure elasticities of oil and fat, meat, eggs, aquatic products, dairy, and liquor for the diet of capital cities are greater than those for the diet of small- and medium-sized cities. The authors forecast that capital city residents will experience a more rapid rate of increase in per capita demand of meat, eggs, and aquatic products, which will lead to much higher per capita land requirements. Projections indicate that total per capita land demand for food production in capital cities will increase by 9.3 percent, from 1,402 to 1,533 m2 between 2010 and 2030, while total per capita land demand in small- and medium-sized cities will increase only by 5.3 percent, from 1,192 to 1,255 m2.


The results imply that urban economic development can significantly affect the final outcomes of land requirements for food production. Urban economic development is expected to accelerate the rate of change toward an affluent diet, which can lead to much higher future land requirements.



JEL Classification — Q21, Q24

This research was financially supported by the Scientific Research Foundation for Introduced Talents of Renmin University of China.


Jiang, L., Seto, K.C. and Bai, J. (2015), "Urban economic development, changes in food consumption patterns and land requirements for food production in China", China Agricultural Economic Review, Vol. 7 No. 2, pp. 240-261.



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