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Household strategies and rural livelihood diversification


  • Frank Ellis


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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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Masahiko Aoki, 2013. "Toward an Economic Model of the Japanese Firm," Chapters,in: Comparative Institutional Analysis, chapter 18, pages 315-341 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    2. Allen, Franklin & Gale, Douglas, 1995. "A welfare comparison of intermediaries and financial markets in Germany and the US," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 179-209, February.
    3. Kenneth A. Froot & Andre F. Perold & Jeremy C. Stein, 1992. "Shareholder Trading Practices And Corporate Investment Horizons," Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, Morgan Stanley, vol. 5(2), pages 42-58.
    4. Honohan, Patrick & Atiyas, Izak, 1993. "Intersectoral Financial Flows in Developing Countries," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 103(418), pages 666-679, May.
    5. Jacobson, Robert & Aaker, David, 1993. "Myopic management behavior with efficient, but imperfect, financial markets : A comparison of information asymmetries in the U.S. and Japan," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(4), pages 383-405, October.
    6. Kenji Kojima, 1994. "An International Perspective on Japanese Corporate Finance," Kobe Economic & Business Review, Research Institute for Economics & Business Administration, Kobe University, vol. 39, pages 11-59.
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