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Agricultural Employment Trends in Asia and Africa: Too Fast or Too Slow?

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  • Derek Headey
  • Dirk Bezemer
  • Peter B. Hazell

Abstract

Contrary to conventional economic theories, the relationship between income growth and agricultural employment is extremely diverse, even among regions starting from similar levels of development, such as Asia and Africa. Due to its labor-intensive Green Revolution and strong farm--nonfarm linkages, Asia's development path is mostly characterized by fast growth with relatively slow agricultural exits. In contrast to Asia, urban biased policies, low rural population density, and high rates of population growth have led a number of African countries down a path of slow economic growth with surprisingly rapid agricultural exits. Despite this divergence both continents now face daunting employment problems. Asia appears to be increasingly vulnerable to rising inequality, slower job creation, and shrinking farm sizes, suggesting that Asian governments need to refocus on integrating smallholders and lagging regions into increasingly commercialized rural and urban economies. Africa, in contrast, has yet to achieve its own Green Revolution, which would still be a highly effective tool for job creation and poverty reduction. However, the diversity of its endowments and its tighter budget constraints mean that agricultural development strategies in Africa need to be highly context specific, financially sustainable, and more evidence-based. Copyright 2010, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Derek Headey & Dirk Bezemer & Peter B. Hazell, 2010. "Agricultural Employment Trends in Asia and Africa: Too Fast or Too Slow?," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 25(1), pages 57-89, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:wbrobs:v:25:y:2010:i:1:p:57-89
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. World Bank, 2013. "Pakistan : Finding the Path to Job-Enhancing Growth," World Bank Other Operational Studies 15979, The World Bank.
    2. Muyanga, Milu & Jayne, T.S., 2014. "Effects of rising rural population density on smallholder agriculture in Kenya," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 98-113.
    3. Rijkers, Bob & Costa, Rita, 2012. "Gender and Rural Non-Farm Entrepreneurship," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(12), pages 2411-2426.
    4. Katsushi S. Imai & Raghav Gaiha & Fabrizio Bresciani, 2016. "Dynamics of Rural Transformation and Poverty and Inequality in Asia and the Pacific," Discussion Paper Series DP2016-30, Research Institute for Economics & Business Administration, Kobe University, revised Mar 2017.
    5. Diao, Xinshen & Fang, Peixun & Magalhaes, Eduardo & Pahl, Stefan & Silver, Jed, 2017. "Cities and rural transformation: A spatial analysis of rural youth livelihoods in Ghana," IFPRI discussion papers 1599, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    6. Christiaensen, Luc & Todo, Yasuyuki, 2014. "Poverty Reduction During the Rural–Urban Transformation – The Role of the Missing Middle," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 43-58.
    7. Headey, Derek & Taffesse, Alemayehu Seyoum & You, Liangzhi, 2012. "Enhancing resilience in the Horn of Africa : An exploration into alternative investment options," IFPRI discussion papers 1176, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    8. Shashidhara Kolavalli & Elizabeth Robinson & Guyslain Ngeleza & Felix Asante, 2012. "Economic Transformation in Ghana: Where Will the Path Lead?," Journal of African Development, African Finance and Economic Association, vol. 14(2), pages 41-78.
    9. repec:eee:wdevel:v:98:y:2017:i:c:p:430-446 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. von Braun, Joachim & Mirzabaev, Alisher, 2015. "Small Farms: Changing Structures and Roles in Economic Development," Discussion Papers 210464, University of Bonn, Center for Development Research (ZEF).
    11. Adesugba, Margaret Abiodun & Mavrotas, George, 2016. "Youth employment, agricultural transformation, and rural labor dynamics in Nigeria," IFPRI discussion papers 1579, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    12. Headey, Derek D., 2013. "Developmental Drivers of Nutritional Change: A Cross-Country Analysis," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 76-88.
    13. Headey, Derek D. & Jayne, T.S., 2014. "Adaptation to land constraints: Is Africa different?," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 18-33.
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