Economics ETDs

Publication Date



Taiwan is basically an agricultural region and therefore, farming plays a vital part in the economic life of the people.

With a limited amount of farm land. Taiwan’s land system before the reform faced a number of problems. Tenancy was one of the most serious problems. Tenants constituted 38.7 percent of total farm families in 1948, a year before rural land reform. Under the traditional system tenants not only had to pay a high rent ranged from 50 per cent to 70 per cent of the crop harvest to landlords, also had to deposit a large sum or money to securing his lease of a land. They were protected by neither written contract nor definite tenure. They could hardly provide an adequate living for their families after they paid a high rent to their landlords and furnished their own fertilizers and farm equipments.

The Chinese Government carried out a series of rural land reform programs in 1949 and completed it at the end of 1962. Three programs are described in the thesis. The first was the “37.5 Per Cent Rural Bent Reduction Program" which limited farm land rent to 37.5 per cent of the total annual gross main crop yield. The remarkable effect of Bent Reduction Program was the increase of rice production and the drop of land price. The production or brown rice increased about 47 per cent between 1948 and 1952. As dropping or land price and increasing of tenant’s income, 66,328 tenant families had bought 35,522 chia (or 34,453.5 hectares) of land from landlords in the period of 1949 - 1953. The second program was a conversion of tenants into owners by selling a portion of the public owned land to tenants who cultivated the land. The price of public land offered for sale was fixed at 2.5 times the amount of the annual main crop yield. This purchase price was to be paid in semi-annual installments spread over a period or ten years with no interest by the tenant purchaser. Up to 1964, a total of 112.258 chia (or 108,881.3 hectares) of farm land had been sold to 233,531 tenant families. The third, the "Land-to-the-Tiller Program," which aimed at turning all tenants into owners, was the last step and final goal of the reform. Each landlord was allowed to keep three chia (or 2. 9 hectares) of medium grade paddy field or twice that much dry land. Landlord holding exceeding that limit should be purchased by the Government and resold to the tenants who were present tillers of the land. The land should be purchased and resold at 2.5 times the amount of its total annual gross main crop yield. The Government paid to the landlord 70 per cent of the land value with land bonds and 30 per cent with stocks of government-owned industries. A total of 143,568 chia (or 139,249.5 hectares) of tenanted land was compulsorily purchased from 106,049 private landlords and resold to 194,823 tenants families in Taiwan.

As the result, the number of tenant families were reduced from 239,939, or 38.65 per cent in 1949 to 106,856, or 12.61 per cent of the total fam. families 1n 1965. The area of tenant cultivated land which constituted 41.15 per cent of the total farm land in 1949 was reduced to 16.32 per cent in 1953. After a few large farms disappeared through the reform, the distribution of farm land was more equal than before. The agricultural output increased 57 per cent, while total agricultural input increased 19 per cent in the period of 1952 to 1962.

The most outstanding result or land reform on the farmers standard or living was the increase in income of farmers as a consequence of an increase in farm production and prices or farm products. Average farm familiy earnings increased about 2 times from 1952 to 1965 at 1952 constant price. With the raising of farm living standards, they had more incentive to improve their farms. Investment 1n agriculture by both farmers and government increased 348.7 per cent from 1953 to 1965.

Another effect of rural land reform on farmers' living was the progress in rural education and improvement of their social and political status. Farmers were more willing to send their children to school after the reform. There were about 230,000 of farmers' children attending primary school in 1948 end increased to 550,000 in 1966. Middle school students increased from 5,500 in 1948 to 130.000 in 1966.

The social and political status of tenants has improved after the reform. Farmers had more opportunity to participate in rural organizations and were frequently elected to offices in local government. In the past it was rarely seen that the farmers engaged themselves in political activities.

Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Economics

First Committee Member (Chair)

Pham Chung

Second Committee Member

Donald G. Tailby

Third Committee Member

David Boyce Hamilton Jr.



Document Type


Included in

Economics Commons