From the President

H. James Brown, April 1, 2003

I am pleased to report that the Lincoln Institute has signed an agreement of understanding with the Ministry of Land and Resources in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to work together on researching and teaching about land and tax policies. Many places in the world face fundamental problems in land allocation and land taxation, but it is difficult to imagine a place and time where the resources of the Lincoln Institute could be more influential and could help more people than in China during the early twenty-first century.

Land and tax policy makers in China are faced with enormous challenges as a result of the extraordinary urbanization of the past two decades. The number of established cities in China grew from 182 in 1982 to 324 in 1985, and reached 666 by 1996, and the average urban population grew by 227 percent between 1957 and 1995. Some cities grew by 200 percent from 1985 to 1995, and the urbanized area of Beijing doubled from 1985 to 1992. However, the extent of urbanization in the future will dwarf that of the recent past. Based on forecasts of population growth and migration, China must provide enough urban land and infrastructure to accommodate more than 450 million persons over the next 20 years. If all of the additional urban population were put in new cities of 10 million persons each, China would need to develop and finance 45 such cities.

China initiated fundamental and revolutionary land use reforms during the mid-1980s. The first reforms established privately held land use rights. The second set of reforms included multiple elements, such as land banking, land trusts, land readjustments, and development of land markets in both urban and rural areas. We believe that the Institute can make a real difference in assisting these reform measures by sponsoring education and training for government officials, supporting research and publications by U.S. and Chinese scholars, and facilitating more in-depth interactions through workshops and conferences.

Over the past two years the Institute has led two training programs in Beijing and participated in meetings between Chinese officials and scholars and Institute board members, faculty and staff. The Institute also sponsored several sessions on land and housing markets in the PRC at the First World Planning Congress in Shanghai in 2001. We anticipate several more training and exchange programs this year, but we believe this is still just the beginning of an expanded effort by the Institute to have a positive impact on land and tax policy in the world’s most populous country. In this issue, Institute faculty associates Chengri Ding and Gerrit Knaap examine some of the recent reforms and current trends in urban land policy in China.