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Small and as Productive : Female Headed Households and the Inverse Relationship between Land Size and Output in Kenya

  • Mwangi wa Githinji

    ()

    (University of Massachusetts Amherst)

  • Charalampos Konstantinidis

    ()

    (University of Massachusetts Amherst)

  • Andrew Barenberg

    ()

    (University of Massachusetts-Amherst)

Access to land and particularly its distribution has reemerged as an important part of both academic and policy discussions in the last decade, leading to the resuscitation of the debate on the relationship between size of holdings and output per land unit. Across the world, studies have suggested the existence of a decreasing relationship between land size and output per unit of land. The most-widely accepted explanation for this relationship is that households with smaller holdings tend to be labor rich relative to land, and therefore can achieve higher output through the increased application of labor. Despite the rich literature on this topic there has been little work on whether this relationship is valid for female-headed households, particularly in the case of African countries. Past African studies have found female-headed households to be smaller by close to one adult in comparison to male-headed households. Given this difference one would expect there to be a difference in the outcome of land redistribution for different types of households, ceteris paribus. Additionally, the aggregate impact in African countries could be substantial, as female-headed households comprise in several cases up to 30 percent of the rural households. In this paper we will examine empirically whether the inverse size and output relationship is different between female and male headed households in the case of Kenya, using the Kenya Integrated Household Budget and Expenditure Survey of 2006, which includes modules on agricultural holdings and agricultural output in addition to the standard demographic characteristics. By controlling for the endogeneity of crop choice and fertilizer use we are able to find that cash crop production and human capital, and not differences in household size, determines the differences in male and female headed land productivity. Hence, our study goes beyond the simple discussion of the inverse relationship between land size and output per unit and the potential impact of redistribution. Specifically we will be able to address the kind of broad rural development policies in addition to land redistribution that would allow female headed households to do at least as well as (if not better than) male headed households. JEL Categories: J16, O13, Q15

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Paper provided by University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics in its series UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers with number 2011-31.

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Date of creation: Nov 2011
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Handle: RePEc:ums:papers:2011-31
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  1. Deininger, Klaus & Olinto, Pedro, 2000. "Why liberalization alone has not improved agricultural productivity in Zambia : the role of asset ownership and working capital constraints," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2302, The World Bank.
  2. Stein Holden & Bekele Shiferaw & John Pender, 2001. "Market Imperfections and Land Productivity in the Ethiopian Highlands," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(3), pages 53-70.
  3. Peterman, Amber & Behrman, Julia & Quisumbing, Agnes, 2010. "A review of empirical evidence on gender differences in nonland agricultural inputs, technology, and services in developing countries," IFPRI discussion papers 975, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
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  6. Thomas Masterson, 2007. "Female Land Rights, Crop Specialization, and Productivity in Paraguayan Agriculture," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_504, Levy Economics Institute.
  7. Place, Frank & Adato, Michelle & Hebinck, Paul, 2007. "Understanding Rural Poverty and Investment in Agriculture: An Assessment of Integrated Quantitative and Qualitative Research in Western Kenya," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 312-325, February.
  8. Udry, Christopher & Hoddinott, John & Alderman, Harold & Haddad, Lawrence, 1995. "Gender differentials in farm productivity: implications for household efficiency and agricultural policy," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 20(5), pages 407-423, October.
  9. Cornia, Giovanni Andrea, 1985. "Farm size, land yields and the agricultural production function: An analysis for fifteen developing countries," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 513-534, April.
  10. Ouma, James Okuro & De Groote, Hugo & Owuor, George, 2006. "Determinants of Improved Maize Seed and Fertilizer Use in Kenya: Policy Implications," 2006 Annual Meeting, August 12-18, 2006, Queensland, Australia 25433, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
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