In this study, the author attempts to clarify the manner in which rural enterprises have developed in Fujian Province, China and to identify the characteristics of rural employment in the province by analyzing data on a rapidly developing town located in the inland areas. The main research methods used were a face-to-face interviews with plant managers and town officers, and a questionnaire survey administered to workers.
Since the mid-1990s, rural enterprises in inland regions of Fujian Province have developed rapidly. Analysis of the Jian'ou City case indicated that large-scale factories that were originally township and village enterprises are now playing an important role in rural enterprise development. These factories process local agricultural resources and successfully approach domestic and international consumer markets with the help of partner enterprises in coastal urban areas. Such factories obtain most of their workforce from nearby rural areas and also draw workers from relatively distant areas both inside and outside Fujian Province. This is an important factor supporting the continuous development of large-scale factories in recent years.
The age of workers at these factories ranges from 20 years to 50—a wide range—because they perform various roles such as managers, technical workers, office workers, and production processing workers. Their wages differ depending on their role. Managers, technical workers, and office workers in the study area have relatively stable incomes; therefore, their households have a strong tendency to withdraw from agriculture. On the other hand, the wages of production processing workers vary significantly. This variation has significant impact on their involvement in agriculture. Some such workers in their 30s and 40s were observed to have a tendency to withdraw from agriculture because they have obtained a relatively high income in the study area. However, in the case of other such workers, especially those having a lower income or an abundant supply of agricultural labor, parents and spouses play a crucial role in their households' continuous engagement in commercial farming.
With the worsening of the environment for traditional social surveys, the use of internet research has rapidly increased and has been expanding in academic research including the discipline of geography. However, the availability of geographic information through internet research and the possibility of regional analysis (i.e., investigating geographical distribution of a certain event and its association with another event) has not been sufficiently discussed. In this study, we collected micro data with detailed residential address information through internet research. We then tried to evaluate a sampling bias by comparing the results of statistical analysis for both individual- and regional-level data. The results showed that, although more than half of the respondents answered a question inquiring about their residential address, the response rates to the question varied by their attributes such as educational attainment. However, individual-level analysis of self-rated health exhibited similar results between the acceptance group and the refusal group for providing residential address. These results were also similar to the results based on the nationally representative samples, which were collected by traditional survey methods, indicating that internet research may be useful as an alternative survey method. For the regional-level analysis, we calculated three indices by the internet research by using prefectures as the unit of analysis, and compared them to the results obtained by the population census of Japan. Although only one out of three indices highly correlated between data sources, we suggest that internet research may be useful in cases when geographical distribution of some events or phenomena have large regional differences in nature. Further studies are needed to understand the sample characteristics of internet research.