Agricultural Employment Trends in Asia and Africa: Too Fast or Too Slow?

Posted: 8 Mar 2010

See all articles by Derek D. Headey

Derek D. Headey

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

D.J. Bezemer

University of Groningen - Faculty of Economics and Business

Peter Hazell

CGIAR - Environment and Production Technology Division

Abstract

Contrary to conventional economic theories, the relationship between income growth and agricultural employment is extremely diverse, even among regions starting from similar levels of development, such as Asia and Africa. Due to its labor-intensive Green Revolution and strong farm-nonfarm linkages, Asia's development path is mostly characterized by fast growth with relatively slow agricultural exits. In contrast to Asia, urban biased policies, low rural population density, and high rates of population growth have led a number of African countries down a path of slow economic growth with surprisingly rapid agricultural exits. Despite this divergence both continents now face daunting employment problems. Asia appears to be increasingly vulnerable to rising inequality, slower job creation, and shrinking farm sizes, suggesting that Asian governments need to refocus on integrating smallholders and lagging regions into increasingly commercialized rural and urban economies. Africa, in contrast, has yet to achieve its own Green Revolution, which would still be a highly effective tool for job creation and poverty reduction. However, the diversity of its endowments and its tighter budget constraints mean that agricultural development strategies in Africa need to be highly context specific, financially sustainable, and more evidence-based.

Keywords: O13, O15, O18

Suggested Citation

Headey, Derek D. and Bezemer, Dirk J. and Hazell, Peter, Agricultural Employment Trends in Asia and Africa: Too Fast or Too Slow?. The World Bank Research Observer, Vol. 25, No. 1, pp. 57-89, 2010, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1565975 or http://dx.doi.org/lkp028

Derek D. Headey (Contact Author)

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) ( email )

1201 Eye St, NW,
Washington, DC 20005
United States

Dirk J. Bezemer

University of Groningen - Faculty of Economics and Business ( email )

Postbus 72
9700 AB Groningen
Netherlands

Peter Hazell

CGIAR - Environment and Production Technology Division

2033 K Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006
United States

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