Technological change in agriculture and the welfare of women in Southern Mali

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Some studies have reported that under current institutional arrangements in developing countries, the impact of technological change is highly inequitable. In particular, it is argued that labor-using technologies introduced in Africa require women to work more without additional compensation. Little evidence has been available on what determines women's compensation for work on family owned fields. This study reports results from fieldwork in five Malian villages, in two major agro-ecological zones, on payments to women including both money and in-kind receipts. The study considers the impacts of new technologies, household bargaining, and the opportunity cost of women's time in determining these payments, thereby testing several theories of household decision-making found in the literature. The results indicate that the expansion of cotton cultivation increases women's communal income, but the magnitude of the gain is very small. Net gains from expansion of cotton cultivation are negative to those women who cultivate private plots, as well as the family fields when the entire increase in labor allocation to communal field is transmitted as equivalent reduction in labor allocation in private fields. This implies that the expansion of cotton production makes women worse off in terms of net income gain if they are required to reallocate their labor from private production to communal production. The policy implications suggested by this study are that women's welfare could be improved through several channels. In the short run, new technologies and better access to markets are needed for use in women's own private fields. In the long-run, as the land becomes even more constrained, emphasis needs to be placed on increasing women's bargaining power and their opportunity cost. (CAB Abstract)


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Women, Household enterprise, Gender, Community institutions, Empowerment, Technological change, Fieldwork, Household bargaining, Cotton cultivation, Labor, Farm/Enterprise Scale Field Scale Governance


PhD dissertation. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University