Participation by men and women in off-farm activities

An empirical analysis in rural northern Ghana

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.

Author: 
McCarthy, Nancy
Sun, Yan
Published date: 
2009
Publisher: 
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
Series number: 
852
PDF file: