IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Key emerging and conceptual issues in the development of the rural non-farm economy in developing countries and transition economies


  • Junior Davis

    (Natural Resources Institute)

  • Dirk Bezemer

    (University of Groningen)


The rural non-farm economy (RNFE) is of interest to governments, multilateral donor organisations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and development practitioners because of its increasing prevalence in both developing and transition economies. In many parts of the world, the number of poor people in rural areas exceeds the capacity of agriculture to provide sustainable livelihood opportunities. Even with a decline in fertility rates and a slowing of population growth, this situation will not change significantly. Out-migration is not possible for all types of people, and urban centres cannot (or should not, for economic and social reasons) be assumed capable of providing adequate livelihood opportunities for all those unable to make a living in agriculture. For these reasons, a healthy RNFE holds out the prospect of improved livelihoods for people living in rural areas. This set of circumstances puts the spotlight on the RNFE as a potential vehicle for poverty reduction in rural areas. This paper reviews contemporary empirical and conceptual thinking on the economics of diversity, non- agricultural growth and the rural non-farm economy.

Suggested Citation

  • Junior Davis & Dirk Bezemer, 2005. "Key emerging and conceptual issues in the development of the rural non-farm economy in developing countries and transition economies," Development and Comp Systems 0510017, EconWPA.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpdc:0510017
    Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 30

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Mathijs, Erik & Swinnen, Johan F M, 1998. "The Economics of Agricultural Decollectivization in East Central Europe and the Former Soviet Union," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 47(1), pages 1-26, October.
    2. Thomas Reardon & Eric Crawford & Valerie Kelly, 1994. "Links Between Nonfarm Income and Farm Investment in African Households: Adding the Capital Market Perspective," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 76(5), pages 1172-1176.
    3. Junior Davis & Angela Gaburici, 2005. "Non-farm employment in small-scale enterprises in Romania: policy and development issues," Development and Comp Systems 0510019, EconWPA.
    4. Kenneth Reinert, 1998. "Rural non-farm development: a trade-theoretic view," The Journal of International Trade & Economic Development, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 7(4), pages 425-437.
    5. Roberts, Deborah, 1998. "Rural-Urban Interdependencies: Analysis Using an Inter-Regional SAM Model," European Review of Agricultural Economics, Foundation for the European Review of Agricultural Economics, vol. 25(4), pages 506-527.
    6. Frank Ellis, 2000. "The Determinants of Rural Livelihood Diversification in Developing Countries," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(2), pages 289-302.
    7. Jian, Tianlun & Sachs, Jeffrey D. & Warner, Andrew M., 1996. "Trends in regional inequality in China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 1-21.
    8. Haggblade, Steven & Hazell, Peter & Brown, James, 1989. "Farm-nonfarm linkages in rural sub-Saharan Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 17(8), pages 1173-1201, August.
    9. Helene Poirson Ward, 2000. "Factor Reallocation and Growth in Developing Countries," IMF Working Papers 00/94, International Monetary Fund.
    10. 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.
    11. Deichmann, Uwe & Henderson, Vernon, 2000. "Urban and regional dynamics in Poland," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2457, The World Bank.
    12. Haggblade, Steven & Hazell, P. B. R. & Reardon, Thomas, 2002. "Strategies for stimulating poverty-alleviating growth in the rural nonfarm economy in developing countries:," EPTD discussion papers 92, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    13. Hanson, Gordon H, 1996. "Localization Economies, Vertical Organization, and Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(5), pages 1266-1278, December.
    14. Junior Davis, 2005. "The rural non-farm economy, Livelihoods and their," Development and Comp Systems 0510016, EconWPA.
    15. Lanjouw, Peter & Quizon, Jaime & Sparrow, Robert, 2001. "Non-agricultural earnings in peri-urban areas of Tanzania: evidence from household survey data," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 385-403, August.
    16. Junior Davis & Adriana Cristoiu, 2005. "Patterns of rural non-farm diversification and employment in," Development and Comp Systems 0510021, EconWPA.
    17. Junior R Davis & Angela Gaburici, 1998. "The Economic Activity of Private Farms in Romania during Transition. Just how competitive are they?," CERT Discussion Papers 9807, Centre for Economic Reform and Transformation, Heriot Watt University.
    18. Assaf Razin & Chi-Wa Yuen, 1996. "Labor Mobility and Fiscal Coordination," NBER Working Papers 5433, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. Barrett, Christopher B. & Bezuneh, Mesfin & Aboud, Abdillahi, 2001. "Income diversification, poverty traps and policy shocks in Cote d'Ivoire and Kenya," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 367-384, August.
    20. Smith, Davd Rider & Gordon, Ann & Meadows, Kate & Zwick, Karen, 2001. "Livelihood diversification in Uganda: patterns and determinants of change across two rural districts," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 421-435, August.
    21. Block, S. & Webb, P., 2001. "The dynamics of livelihood diversification in post-famine Ethiopia," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 333-350, August.
    22. Lanjouw, Peter, 1999. "Rural Nonagricultural Employment and Poverty in Ecuador," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 48(1), pages 91-122, October.
    23. Antle, John M, 1983. "Infrastructure and Aggregate Agricultural Productivity: International Evidence," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(3), pages 609-619, April.
    24. Abdulai, Awudu & CroleRees, Anna, 2001. "Determinants of income diversification amongst rural households in Southern Mali," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 437-452, August.
    25. Thomas Reardon & J. Edward Taylor & Kostas Stamoulis & Peter Lanjouw & Arsenio Balisacan, 2000. "Effects of Non-Farm Employment on Rural Income Inequality in Developing Countries: An Investment Perspective," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(2), pages 266-288.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Fritzsch, Jana, 2011. "A Composite Fuzzy Indicator for Assessing Farm Household Potential for Non-farm Income Diversification," 2011 International Congress, August 30-September 2, 2011, Zurich, Switzerland 114349, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    2. Loening, Josef & Rijkers, Bob & Soderbom, Mans, 2008. "Nonfarm microenterprise performance and the investment climate : evidence from rural Ethiopia," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4577, The World Bank.
    3. Nkechi S. Owoo, 2016. "Determinants of choice of economic sector in the non-farm economy in Ghana," African Journal of Economic and Sustainable Development, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 5(1), pages 31-54.
    4. Junior Davis, 2005. "The rural non-farm economy, Livelihoods and their," Development and Comp Systems 0510016, EconWPA.

    More about this item


    Rural non-farm economy; non-agricultural growth; employment; livelihoods; diversity;

    JEL classification:

    • O - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth
    • P - Economic Systems

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpdc:0510017. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (EconWPA). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.