Agricultural Productivity, Hired Labor, Wages and Poverty: Evidence from Bangladesh

42 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016

See all articles by Shahe Emran

Shahe Emran

Columbia University

Forhad Shilpi

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG)

Date Written: October 1, 2014


This paper provides evidence on the effects of agricultural productivity on wage rates, labor supply to market oriented activities, and labor allocation between own farming and wage labor in agriculture. To guide the empirical work, this paper develops a general equilibrium model that underscores the role of reallocation of family labor engaged in the production of non-marketed services at home (`home production'). The model predicts positive effects of a favorable agricultural productivity shock on wages and income, but the effect on hired labor is ambiguous; it depends on the strength of reallocation of labor from home to market production by labor surplus and deficit households. Taking rainfall variations as a measure of shock to agricultural productivity, and using subdistrict level panel data from Bangladesh, this paper finds significant positive effects of a favorable rainfall shock on agricultural wages, labor supply to market work, and per capita household expenditure. The share of hired labor in contrast declines substantially in response to a favorable productivity shock, which is consistent with a case where labor-deficit households respond more than the labor-surplus ones in reallocating labor from home production.

Keywords: Employment and Shared Growth, Rural Labor Markets, Equity and Development, Social Protections & Assistance, Achieving Shared Growth, Labor Markets, Rural Poverty Reduction Strategies, Pro-Poor Growth, Rural Poverty Reduction

Suggested Citation

Emran, Shahe and Shilpi, Forhad, Agricultural Productivity, Hired Labor, Wages and Poverty: Evidence from Bangladesh (October 1, 2014). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 7056. Available at SSRN:

Shahe Emran (Contact Author)

Columbia University ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

Forhad Shilpi

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG) ( email )

1818 H. Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433
United States
202-458-7476 (Phone)
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