9/16/2015 feature story
International labor migration – mostly from poor agricultural regions to more industrialized countries – is a growing concern. This study focuses on the impact of labor out-migration on agricultural productivity in the migrant-sending locale of Chitwan Valley, Nepal, a poor area persistently facing food security problems. We examine the extent to which labor out-migration influences agricultural productivity, women's participation in farming, and exit from farming. We assess the degree to which remittances influence farm technology use, women's participation in farming, and exit from farming. And we look at the relationship between the use of farm technology and exit from farming, and subsequent out-migration. Understanding the links between out-migration and agriculture is complex because changes in agricultural practices and migration are likely to influence each other – a potential reciprocal relationship that has limited previous research in this area. To address this complication, we are leveraging the Chitwan Valley Family Study (CVFS), a case control comparison design at the community level with a 15-year panel study of a stratified systematic sample of communities, households, and individuals in Nepal. The design enables us to address the nonrandom selection of individuals into migration and to control for macro-level effects (e.g., climate, prices, and policies). We are also collecting a modest amount of new data. This study will generate high-quality scientific outcomes that include a comprehensive panel dataset with potential to address perplexing methodological problems, as well as new empirical evidence on the consequences of labor out-migration, agricultural productivity, and its interplay with gender.
Dirgha J. Ghimire, William G. Axinn, Prem B. Bhandari, Rebecca L. Thornton
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