Technology and the internet are probably the first things that come to mind when you think about the future of work for young people; not agriculture or farming. This makes historic sense, as agriculture sheds labor when countries develop. And the traditional ways of producing food do not look particularly sexy. Yet, technology and the internet are also opening up opportunities for agriculture, and urbanization and changing diets are calling for new ways to process, market and consume our foods. So, can agriculture provide job opportunities for youth?
Agriculture and Rural Development
The food system currently employs the majority of people in developing countries, both in self and wage employment. And, according to our recent paper on jobs, all signs indicate that this system — which includes agriculture, as well as beyond-farm jobs in food processing, transportation, restaurants and others — will continue to be a major engine for job creation in the foreseeable future. As economies all over the world are confronted with the challenge of creating around 1.6 billion jobs over the next 15 years, it is important to harness the potential for job generation through productive alliances.
Zambia is currently under pressure to increase the pace of the economic transformation to create more productive jobs. Despite rapid economic growth from 2000-2013, the country is struggling to provide the kind of jobs needed to help spur sustainable growth and development. The landlocked country is also one of Africa’s youngest countries by median age, and youth (aged 15-24) who are a significant and increasing share of the working population, are finding it hard to get jobs.
Focusing on improving women’s skills alone is not enough to enable them to take advantage of economic opportunities. Our study of a program in Bangladesh shows that ensuring labor market participation for the socially excluded requires more than imparting income opportunities via training or asset transfers.
With high levels of self-employment in developing countries (see our recent blog “Self-Employment and Subsistence Entrepreneurs?”), policy makers are weighing various types of interventions to reduce poverty and improve productivity. The options for them fall into two key categories: (1) helping raise the returns for the self-employed in the activities and sectors where they are now; and (2) helping move them from self-employment into higher paying wage jobs. In this blog, we share the perspectives of three experts: David Margolis (Research Director, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, University of Paris), Tim Gindling, (Professor of Economics, University of Maryland), and Gary Fields (Professor of Economics, Cornell University).
More than half of all workers in the developing world are self-employed, mainly in agriculture. But unlike in the developed world, self-employment is typically because of constraints (like a lack of available wage jobs) – not by choice. In other words, it’s a question of survival. In this blog, we share the thoughts of three experts on the challenges these people face: Gary Fields (Professor of Economics, Cornell University), David Margolis (Research Director, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, University of Paris), and Tim Gindling, (Professor of Economics, University of Maryland).
The inequality between rural and urban locations is one of the largest contributing factors to the overall economic inequality in a country. Yet there are a lot of unanswered questions about the sources of this inequality, such as how structural transformation – namely the movement of labor from low productivity sectors like agriculture to higher productivity sectors like industry – affects the rural-urban divide. To shed light on this question, Amartya Lahiri (University of British Columbia) and I recently wrote a paper on what occurred in India between 1983 and 2010. Our findings highlight that over the past three decades, there has been a rapid wage convergence between urban and rural areas – with the fast growth of the urban labor force playing a major role.
When one part of the local economy fails, it spills over into other parts of the economy. Maybe this isn't so surprising. However, recent research in Zambia highlights a less obvious link: farmers who can't get access to credit during the hungry season (January to March) increase their off-farm labor supply, drive down wages, and maybe even undermine their own agricultural yields.Fortunately, there is new evidence that providing consumption loans can help farmers invest in their own fields, and — we hope — boost their productivity.
In 2006, India launched the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) to tackle underemployment and unemployment in the agricultural sector. The program guaranteed a minimum of 100 days of work every year to anyone who requested it. How is it doing? We examine this question in a two-part series. In Part II, we talk with Shamika Ravi, Assistant Professor, Indian School of Business, who recently conducted an impact evaluation of NREGS in Medak District (one of the poorest districts in Andhra Pradesh).
In 2006, India launched the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) to tackle underemployment and unemployment in the agricultural sector. The program guaranteed a minimum of 100 days of work every year to anyone who requested it. How is it doing? We examine this question in a two-part series. In Part I, we talk with R.Subrahmanyam, Principal Secretary of Rural Development in Andhra Pradesh. He says that since 2006, the program has been extended to 1 million villages, providing employment to more than 2.5 billion households, at a cost of $33 billion.