The Political Economy of Rural Livelihoods in Transition Economies: Land, Peasants and Rural Poverty in Transition, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Political Economy of Rural Livelihoods in Transition Economies

Land, Peasants and Rural Poverty in Transition, 1st Edition

Edited by Max Spoor


288 pages | 36 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2010-04-15
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Rural poverty is a phenomenon that is widespread yet often ignored by policy makers and researchers. This edited volume looks critically at rural poverty in Central Eastern Europe, Russia, the Caucasus and Central Asia, China and Vietnam in relation to land reform, farm restructuring and the development of rural markets and in the context of a large gap between rural and urban incomes and deteriorating rural social services and infrastructure. Although in most countries rural poverty has been decreasing in the past few years, economic growth in rural areas is slow, and rural incomes are not ‘catching up’ with the rapid overall growth rates of these transition economies. In general, the livelihoods of rural dwellers remain relatively poor.

Next to comparative studies, the chapters in this book explore various aspects of agrarian reform, and analyze the interlocking or interlinking (land, input and output) markets that are crucial for rural development that have often remained weakly developed in transition economies, including case studies from Russia, Moldova, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Vietnam and China and a wealth of detailed analysis. These chapters reflect the striking differences between transition countries in their processes of rural reform and development of rural poverty. These differences are generally dependent on the initial conditions at the eve of transition, the policies implemented, the sequencing of reforms, and the importance that was given to the sector in the overall development strategy, such as can be seen if the Asian transition economies (ATEs) are compared with many of those in Eastern Europe.


"A serious attempt to evaluate critically the progress up till now of land reform in the transition countries. Particularly valuable are the attention to rural poverty, the wide range of countries covered, the case studies of countries such as Moldova, Russia and Vietnam, and the detailed studies of particular issues (eg cotton production in Central Asia, and the relationship between private property rights and investment in Chinese agriculture). An important contribution to studies of transition, development, poverty alleviation, agricultural economics, and the countries concerned."

Michael Ellman, Amsterdam University, the Netherlands

"The various contributions in the book share a commitment to emperical studies based upon large surveys, an approach addressed to scholars and policy-makers alike. …the book makes a valuable contribution to the literature on postsocialism. It will surely gain unanimous appreciation of the international community of scholars and policy-makers interested in land reform and povert in postsocialist countries."

Stefan Dorondel, Francisc I Rainer Instiute of Anthropology, Bucharest

Journal of Peasant Studies

Table of Contents

1. The Rural Development Challenge of Transition Max Spoor 2. Land, Interlinking Markets and Rural Poverty in Transition Countries Karen Macours, Liesbet Vranken and Johan F.M. Swinnen 3. Land, Markets and Rural Poverty in the CIS-7 Max Spoor 4. Land Reform in Post-Communist Russia: The Effects of Household Labor Stephen K. Wegren 5. Household Plots and their Symbiosis with Large Farm Enterprises in Russia Oane Visser 6. Land Reform and Interlocking agricultural markets in Moldova Felicia Izman and Max Spoor 7. The Reshaping of Inequality in Uzbekistan: Reforms, Land, and Rural Incomes Tommaso Trevisani 8. Cotton and Rural Livelihoods in Former Soviet Central Asia Max Spoor 9. Land and Rural Poverty in Armenia Aghassi Mkrtchyan, Gohar Minasyan and Max Spoor 10.Agrarian Transformations in Vietnam: Land Reform, Markets and Poverty Steffanie Scott 11. Land Markets, Property and Disputes in China Peter Ho 12. Cotton and Rural Income Development in Xinjiang Max Spoor and Shi Xiaoping

About the Editor

Max Spoor is Associate Professor of Transition Economics at the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague, and Visiting Professor at the Barcelona Institute of International Studies (IBEI).

About the Series

Routledge ISS Studies in Rural Livelihoods

Editorial Board: A. Haroon Akram-Lodhi (Trent University), Saturnino M. Borras Jr. (Institute of Social Studies), Cristóbal Kay (Chair) (Institute of Social Studies) and Max Spoor (Institute of Social Studies).

Routledge and the Institute of Social Studies (ISS) in The Hague, The Netherlands publish a book series together in rural livelihoods. The series includes themes such as land policies and land rights, water issues, food policy and politics, rural poverty, agrarian transformation, migration, rural-oriented social movements, rural conflict and violence, among others. All books in the series offer rigorous, empirically grounded, cross-national comparative and inter-regional analysis. The books are theoretically stimulating, but are also accessible to policy practitioners and civil society activists.

For a complete list of titles in this series, please visit

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Development / Economic Development
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Economics / General