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Michigan State University (2017)

Household Structure and Labor Allocation : the Case of Risk Insurance in Mali and Technology Adoption in Burkina Faso

Ouedraogo, Aissatou

Titre : Household Structure and Labor Allocation : the Case of Risk Insurance in Mali and Technology Adoption in Burkina Faso

Auteur : Ouedraogo, Aissatou

Etablissement de soutenance : Michigan State University

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 2017

The low level of adoption of labor-saving technologies makes human labor a central productive factor among small-scale farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. Yet, many of these farmers face missing labor markets such that household composition becomes an important source of labor endowment. This dissertation investigates family structure and labor allocation using detailed household agricultural production data under two different contexts : (i) when households are subject to production risk and (ii) in the wake of the introduction of a new agricultural technology. The first study uses a two-wave plot level dataset collected in 2009 and 2012 and applies multiple levels of fixed effect and alternative functional forms to investigate labor allocation across collective plots –collectively owned by extended family members and managed by the heads of extended family household– and individual plots managed by the other adult male members. The empirical findings provide strong evidence that collective plots receive much more labor and achieve higher crop yield per hectare relative to individual plots. These findings, which are unanticipated with respect to what the theory on collective production predicts, are rationalized by the claim that collective plots serve as a mechanism for an ex-ante risk mitigation strategy against production uncertainty. Such a claim is tested using the historical coefficient of variation of rainfall to show that households living in villages with higher rainfall variability present a significantly higher labor allocation gap in favor of their collective plots relative to individual plots. Furthermore, household level data analysis indicates that nuclear households in places with higher historical rainfall variability are more likely to be engaged in collective farming.The second study uses randomized control trial (RCT) data combined with the difference-in-difference estimation method to investigate household labor response to the introduction of the microdosing technology (a fertilizer application technique) among extended family households –formed by multiple nuclear households– and purely nuclear family households in Burkina Faso. The findings indicate that the intervention significantly increased labor allocation among nuclear households, which is as expected, given that the microdosing technology is very labor-intensive. In contrast, we find that the program significantly reduced labor allocation among extended households. Two explanations are provided for this differential impact according to family structure.The first relates to differences in control over productive resources across the two types of households. Specifically, within the extended households, labor is shared across the collective and individual plots. This labor arrangement is likely to constrain the amount of labor that can be allocated to the plots receiving the microdosing technology. The second explanation is related to differences in incentives. Nuclear households are sole claimants of any incremental output, which may give them greater incentive to exert more effort to meet the labor requirement of the microdosing technology. In contrast, extended family household members are rewarded based on their need rather than their efforts, providing them less incentive relative to those in purely nuclear family households.While the findings from the two studies seem at first glance contrasting, a close consideration of the settings of the two studies shows that these findings are specific to their context. This calls attention to how factors governing productive resource allocations among households with missing and incomplete markets are numerous, multifaceted, and context-specific to the household structure. This highlights the need for more microeconomic household analysis for better targeting aiming at increasing agricultural productivity, and consequently, food security


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