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Examining the Role of Off-Farm Income in Insulating Vulnerable Farm Households from Poverty


  • Mary Keeney

    (Central Bank of Ireland)

  • Mark O’ Brien

    () (Rural Economy and Development Programme, Teagasc, Athenry, Co. Galway, Ireland)


The reliance of farm households on off-farm employment to supplement their income seems to be a growing phenomenon in Irish farming. In 1995, Teagasc’s National Farm Survey (NFS) recorded that on 36.5 percent of the farms sampled; the farmer and/or spouse had an off-farm job. By 2006, this figure had increased to over 58 percent. The objective of this paper is to identify and examine the livelihood strategies implemented in households located in rural Ireland, with particular emphasis on the role of off-farm income in insulating vulnerable farm households from poverty. Our results show that Irish rural households by diversifying their income situation, i.e. being less dependent on farming and more so on the non-farm economy, has resulted in an improvement in the distribution of incomes accruing to farm households and that non-farm incomes are having a significant positive effect on lowering the risk of relative income and consistent poverty in rural areas.

Suggested Citation

  • Mary Keeney & Mark O’ Brien, 2008. "Examining the Role of Off-Farm Income in Insulating Vulnerable Farm Households from Poverty," Working Papers 0820, Rural Economy and Development Programme,Teagasc.
  • Handle: RePEc:tea:wpaper:0820

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Étienne Gilbert, 1983. "Sudhir Anand, Inequality and Poverty in Malaysia, measurement and decomposition," Revue Tiers Monde, Programme National Persée, vol. 24(95), pages 709-710.
    2. Barrett, C. B. & Reardon, T. & Webb, P., 2001. "Nonfarm income diversification and household livelihood strategies in rural Africa: concepts, dynamics, and policy implications," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 315-331, August.
    3. Von Witzke, Harald, 1984. "Poverty, Agriculture, and Economic Development: A Survey," European Review of Agricultural Economics, Foundation for the European Review of Agricultural Economics, vol. 11(4), pages 439-453.
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