Contrary to conventional wisdom that equates rural economies with agriculture, rural residents in developing countries often rely heavily on activities other than farming for their income. Indeed, nonfarm work accounts for between one-third and one-half of rural incomes in the developing world. In recent years, accelerating globalization, increasing competition from large businesses, expanding urban markets for rural goods and services, and greater availability of information and communication technology have combined to expose rural nonfarm businesses to new opportunities as well as new risks. By examining these rapid changes in the rural nonfarm economy, international experts explore how the rural nonfarm economy can contribute to overall economic growth in developing countries and how the poor can participate in this rapidly evolving segment of the economy. The authors review an array of recent studies of the rural nonfarm economy in order to summarize existing empirical evidence, explore policy implications, and identify future research priorities. They examine the varied scale, structure, and composition of the rural nonfarm economy, as well as its relationship with agricultural and urban enterprises. And they address key questions about the role of public intervention in the rural nonfarm economy and how the rural poor can participate in and navigate the rapid transition underway in rural areas. The contributors offer new insights to specialists in rural development and to others interested in overall economic development. This book is the product of a joint study by the International Food Policy Research Institute and The World Bank.