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Household strategies and rural livelihood diversification

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  • Frank Ellis

Abstract

This article reviews the recent literature on diversification as a livelihood strategy of rural households in developing countries, with particular reference to sub-Saharan Africa. Livelihood diversification is defined as the process by which rural families construct a diverse portfolio of activities and social support capabilities in order to survive and to improve their standards of living. The determinants and effects of diversification in the areas of poverty, income distribution, farm output and gender are examined. Some policy inferences are summarised. The conclusion is reached that removal of constraints to, and expansion of opportunities for, diversification are desirable policy objectives because they give individuals and households more capabilities to improve livelihood security and to raise living standards.

Suggested Citation

  • Frank Ellis, 1998. "Household strategies and rural livelihood diversification," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(1), pages 1-38.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jdevst:v:35:y:1998:i:1:p:1-38
    DOI: 10.1080/00220389808422553
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    1. von Braun, Joachim & Pandya-Lorch, Rajul, 1991. "Income sources of malnourished people in rural areas: Microlevel information and policy implications," IFPRI working papers 5, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    2. Ellis,Frank, 1992. "Agricultural Policies in Developing Countries," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521395847.
    3. Webb, Patrick & von Braun, Joachim & Yohannes, Yisehac, 1992. "Famine in Ethiopia: policy implications of coping failure at national and household levels," Research reports 92, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    4. Adams, Richard H. Jr. & He, Jane J., 1995. "Sources of income inequality and poverty in rural Pakistan:," Research reports 102, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
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