Participation by men and women in off-farm activities

An empirical analysis in rural northern Ghana

Nancy McCarthy, Yan Sun
ifpri discussion paper

"Using survey data from the Upper East region of Ghana collected in 2005, the paper evaluates the household- and community-level factors influencing women’s and men’s decisions to participate in off-farm activities, either in the off-farm labor market or in local community groups, and the relationship with on-farm crop returns. Results indicate that crop returns are not affected by increased labor availability over a certain labor-land ratio. Female participation in off-farm labor markets increases at higher levels of labor availability, but participation in women’s groups’ only increases as labor scarcity is relaxed at lower levels. Alternatively, male participation in off-farm work increases over all levels of labor availability. Results also indicate that male labor is relatively more productive on-farm versus off-farm than female labor, and, though education increases the likelihood that both women and men will work off-farm (with no impact on crop revenues), the impact is greater for women. Finally, participation in off-farm work does not appear to be driven by the need to reduce exposure to risk or to manage risk ex post; wealthier households located in wealthier communities are more likely to participate in off-farm work. Evidence for participation in groups and risk is more complicated; wealthier households in wealthier communities are also more likely to participate, but so too are female-headed households with higher dependency ratios." --from authors' abstract