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Caught in a productivity trap: a distributional perspective on gender differences in Malawian agriculture

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Author Info

  • Kilic, Talip
  • Palacios-Lopez, Amparo
  • Goldstein, Markus

Abstract

In targeting poverty gains, sub-Saharan African governments have emphasized the alleviation of gender differences in agricultural productivity. The empirical studies on the gender gap, however, have frequently used data that were limited regarding geographic and topical coverage, and/or details on intra-household dynamics. The study provides a nationally-representative analysis of the gender gap in Malawi, and decomposes it, for the first time, at the mean and at selected points of the agricultural productivity distribution into (i) a portion driven by gender differences in levels of observable attributes (the endowment effect), and (ii) a portion driven by gender differences in returns to the same set of observables (the structure effect). Sequentially, the authors unpack the relative contributions of different factors towards the gender gap, and suggest future research priorities to inform policy interventions. The authors find that while female-managed plots are, on average, 25 percent less productive, 82 percent of this differential is explained by differences in endowments, mainly due to high-value crop cultivation and levels of household adult male labor inputs. The factors driving the structure effect include child dependency ratio and effectiveness of household adult male labor and inorganic fertilizer. The gender gap increases across the productivity distribution, ranging from 22 percent at the 10th percentile to 37 percent at the 90th percentile. While it is explained predominantly by the endowment effect in the first half of the distribution, the contribution of the structure effect towards the gender gap increases steadily above the median, standing at 34 percent at the 90th percentile.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 6381.

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Date of creation: 01 Mar 2013
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:6381

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Related research

Keywords: Gender and Development; Housing&Human Habitats; Gender and Health; Rural Development Knowledge&Information Systems; Gender and Law;

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References

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  1. Larson, Donald F. & Otsuka, Keijiro & Matsumoto, Tomoya & Kilic, Talip, 2012. "Should African rural development strategies depend on smallholder farms ? an exploration of the inverse productivity hypothesis," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6190, The World Bank.
  2. Akresh, Richard, 2005. "Understanding Pareto Inefficient Intrahousehold Allocations," IZA Discussion Papers 1858, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Oaxaca, Ronald, 1973. "Male-Female Wage Differentials in Urban Labor Markets," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 14(3), pages 693-709, October.
  4. Ben Jann, 2008. "The Blinder–Oaxaca decomposition for linear regression models," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 8(4), pages 453-479, December.
  5. Alene, Arega D. & Manyong, Victor M. & Omanya, Gospel O. & Mignouna, Hodeba D. & Bokanga, Mpoko & Odhiambo, George D., 2008. "Economic Efficiency and Supply Response of Women as Farm Managers: Comparative Evidence from Western Kenya," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 36(7), pages 1247-1260, July.
  6. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2000. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," NBER Working Papers 7771, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Chen, Shaohua & Ravallion, Martin, 2008. "The developing world is poorer than we thought, but no less successful in the fight against poverty," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4703, The World Bank.
  8. Joseph G. Altonji & Todd E. Elder & Christopher R. Taber, 2005. "Selection on Observed and Unobserved Variables: Assessing the Effectiveness of Catholic Schools," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(1), pages 151-184, February.
  9. Alan S. Blinder, 1973. "Wage Discrimination: Reduced Form and Structural Estimates," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 8(4), pages 436-455.
  10. Markus Goldstein & Christopher Udry, 2008. "The Profits of Power: Land Rights and Agricultural Investment in Ghana," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(6), pages 981-1022, December.
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Cited by:
  1. Malapit, Hazel Jean L. & Kadiyala, Suneetha & Quisumbing, Agnes R. & Cunningham, Kenda & Tyagi, Parul, 2013. "Women’s empowerment in agriculture, production diversity, and nutrition: Evidence from Nepal:," IFPRI discussion papers 1313, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  2. Sraboni, Esha & Malapit, Hazel J. & Quisumbing, Agnes R. & Ahmed, Akhter U., 2013. "Women’s empowerment in agriculture: What role for food security in Bangladesh?:," IFPRI discussion papers 1297, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  3. Bhaumik, Sumon K. & Dimova, Ralitza & Gang, Ira N., 2014. "Is Women's Ownership of Land a Panacea in Developing Countries? Evidence from Land-Owning Farm Households in Malawi," IZA Discussion Papers 7907, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Palacios-López, Amparo & López, Ramon E., 2014. "Gender Differences in Agricultural Productivity: The Role of Market Imperfections," Working Papers 164061, University of Maryland, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.

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