The rural-urban income divide among farm households: the role of off-farm work and farm size

El-Osta, H.S.

Agricultural Finance Review 80(4): 453-470

2020


ISSN/ISBN: 0002-1466
DOI: 10.1108/afr-12-2018-0106
Accession: 070996712

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Abstract
Purpose The determinants of income of rural and urban farm households, with emphasis on the role of off-farm employment by farm household members and of farm size, are examined using data from the 2016 Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS) and quantile regression procedure. The implemented quantile regression technique is extended to allow for the decomposition of the income gap between the two groups of farm households. Findings indicate, regardless of the location of the farm, a positive and significant impact of a previous year's participation in off-farm work by household members on the distribution of current household income. Having operated a larger-sized farm in the previous year is shown with a similar effect in the upper range of the income distribution for urban households and with a comparable impact but across the whole income distribution for rural farm households. Design/methodology/approach Data from the 2016 ARMS are used in conjunction with quantile regression in order for decomposition of the income gap between the two groups of farm households. Findings Findings show that urban farm households who in a previous year have participated in off-farm work and operated larger-sized farms tend to earn higher incomes. Results further indicate higher rates of return to education for "urban" farm households in comparison to "rural" farm households, particularly for those with a college education and beyond who are at the lower portion of the income distribution. Social implications The results of a higher rate of return to education for "urban" farm households in comparison to "rural" farm households have important policy implications for policymakers. Originality/value This is the first paper in the agricultural economic literature that implements a method of assessing the rural-urban divide across all of the quantiles of income distribution.