«Juanwen Yuan Thesis committee Thesis supervisor Prof. dr. A. Niehof Professor of Sociology of Consumers and Households Wageningen University Thesis ...»
For making a living, one needs income. Ellis (2000) has categorized villagers’ income into three types: farm income, referring to income generated from own-account farming, whether on owner-occupied land, or on land accessed through cash or shared tenancy; off-farm income, referring to wage or exchange labour on other farms; and non-farm income, referring to non-agricultural income sources.
Subsistence farmers are sensitive to risks. Scott (1976) in his famous study, concluded that peasants try to distribute the risks and stabilize their livelihood.
Quisumbing (2003) mentions the importance of social networks for women in helping them to mitigate the impact of adverse shocks. Ellis (2000) mentions that the achievement of increasing productivity in small-farm agriculture is the central orientation in rural development from the 1970s onward. For a better understanding of the livelihood system, we need to discuss livelihood strategies, livelihood diversification, and sustainable livelihood.
In this research, I will look at livelihood as a system. Resources are needed for livelihood generation and household is the locus for generating the livelihood
(see conceptual framework in this chapter). I also will give attention to households’ land use for on-farm livelihood activities.
Livelihood portfolio and strategies The livelihood portfolio is the bundle of activities households engage in to generate a livelihood and achieve a certain level of livelihood security (Niehof, 2004). Both households and the individuals within them undertake their livelihood strategies for survival. However, these strategies can change, based on the household’s and individuals’ life course, as Ali (2005) documented for Bangladesh.
Scoones (1998) distinguishes several kinds of livelihood strategies: agricultural intensification or extensification, livelihood diversification, and migration.
Their analysis of livelihood strategies can be done at many levels: that of the individual, the household, the village, and at regional or national levels (Scoones, 1998). The livelihood activities of the household head are not the only determining
factor for the livelihood status of households (Ali, 2005). As Hussein (1998:6) states:
“Different livelihood strategies complement one another as rural producers make their way in what are often risky, resource-poor environments […] Migration and investment in agricultural intensification are often combined with a range of income diversification activities to form the basis of rural people’s total livelihood strategies.” Livelihood strategies are adapted to changing circumstances. Coping strategies are needed in some situations (Ellis, 2000). Niehof and Price (2001: 16) see coping strategies as “aimed at dealing with recurrent, hence foreseeable, situations of stress.” A livelihood portfolio comprises a combination of livelihood activities and assets, while a livelihood strategy is about people’s selection of the different activities and use of assets in their livelihood portfolio to reach their livelihood goals.
Livelihood diversification Livelihood diversification is a survival strategy of rural households. Diversification on farm is a livelihood strategy but a rural economy is more than just farming.
Farming households need multiple sources of livelihood: “To flourish, they also need a buoyant and supportive non-farm rural economy to provide them with inputs, services, local employment and local demand” (Francis, 2000: 21).
Livelihood diversification can be defined as “the process by which households construct increasingly diverse livelihood portfolios, making use of increasingly diverse combinations of resources and assets” (Niehof, 2004: 321).
“Rural livelihood diversification is defined as the process by which rural households construct an increasingly diverse portfolio of activities and assets in order to survive and to improve their standard of living” (Ellis, 2000: 15). Francis (2000) refers to livelihood diversification as multiple livelihoods. Van Tilburg (2001: 7) points out that options to diversify the household’s activities relate to the mix of soil types that the households use in their farming system; the mix of crops the households cultivate; the mix of on-farm and off-farm activities of household members; and the mix of social relations that support the household in periods of distress.
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People have different motivations to diversify their livelihoods. Livelihood diversification also depends on the resources people have or can get access to.
“Livelihood diversification is pursued for a mixture of motivations, and these vary according to context: from a desire to accumulate to invest, to a need to spread risk or maintain incomes, to a requirement to adapt to survive in eroding circumstances, or some combination of these” (Hussein and Nelson, 1998: 22).
Hussein and Nelson (1998) also state that livelihood diversification is often closely connected with the development and implementation of other livelihood strategies. In Bangladesh, Ali (2005) has found that poor households diversify their livelihood through off-farm activities, but tend to return to farming once they become better-off. Francis (2000) and Ellis (2000) have found that deteriorating economic conditions require households to construct livelihoods from different resources and a mix of activities. It is a rational response to risk.
Livelihood diversification is also gendered (Ali, 2005; Francis, 2000; Niehof, 2004). According to Ellis (2000), diversification has both positive effects (finding new niches in the market economy) and negative effects (trapping women in customary roles) on gender relationships. Meanwhile, in this diversification process, the household composition and the relationship between its members are undergoing change. In Africa, Francis (2000: 183) found that “diversified livelihoods can reduce the interdependence of household members.” The reason is that men found it difficult to support the family, whereupon women decided to become better-off by relying on their own contribution.
Sustainable livelihood According to Hussein (1998:3), a sustainable livelihood is “a livelihood that can cope with and recover from stresses and shocks, maintain or enhance its capabilities and assets both now and in the future, while not undermining the natural resource base.” Scoones (1998) states that a sustainable livelihood includes five key elements: the creation of working days – creating gainful employment on or offfarm, as part of a wage labour system or subsistence production; poverty reduction; well-being capabilities; livelihood adaptation, vulnerability and resilience; and natural resource-based sustainability. “The first three elements focus on livelihoods, linking concerns over work and employment with poverty reduction with broader issues of adequacy, security, well-being, and capability.
The last two add the sustainability dimension, looking, in turn, at the resilience of livelihoods and the natural resource base on which, in part, they depend” (Scoones, 1998: 6).
A sustainable livelihood is a secure livelihood (Niehof and Price, 2001).
Households can change as a response to stress and shocks (Ellis, 2000). Vulnerable livelihoods are insecure. Ellis (2000) describes vulnerability as a household’s inability to cope with adverse situations with existing assets and resources.
3.2.2 Migration Migration is a type of livelihood diversification (Ellis, 2000; Francis, 2000; Hussein and Nelson, 1998). According to Mallee (1997), rural-urban migration plays an
important role in the economic growth in the developing world and contributes a lot to the rural household’s livelihood. Migration is hard to conceptualize. It has both temporal and spatial dimensions (Jones, 1990). Many definitions are not so strict on the moving distance, but focus more on the degree of permanency of the change of residence. Mobility is the most general concept. There is spatial mobility and social mobility. Jones (1990) distinguishes non-recurrent extra-local movement from recurrent local movement, involving no change in residence, e.g. the movement of seasonal or temporary workers. Furthermore, migration also includes circulation – recurrent extra-local movement. Ellis (2000) states that there are four types of migration: seasonal migration, circular migration, permanent migration (rural-urban) and international migration. In this research, I will group migration into (longer-term) migration and local circular migration. Longer-term migration is defined as moving out longer than three months consecutively; I define local circular migration as moving out fewer than three months consecutively, something that usually includes commuting. In the following chapters, if I do not specify long-term migration or local circular migration, it generally indicates both types of migration.
Migration can be an individual choice as well as a family decision. The former aims at a better life in the city, while the latter is oriented towards risk reduction. In his research in China, Mallee (1997) found that circular labour migrants in China have two characteristics: they have both production income and circulation income because they still have to cultivate land while they earn nonfarm income. Migration can take place at the individual and the household level. It is a kind of household or individual strategy, linked to livelihood diversification.
In his study on migration in East Java, Indonesia, Spaan (1999) has found that labour circulation is one possible outcome of the interplay between households and individuals, and the influence of changing structural conditions. Other household coping strategies or adaptations to socio-economic transformations are usually considered as well, such as cash cropping, economic diversification, land tenure changes, and modifications in the use of household or external labour.
Mallee (1997) sees circular migration arrangements as part of rural households’ labour allocation strategies.
Migrants usually maintain their relationship with their families. Ellis (2000:70-71) states that “migrants maintain the flow of remittances to their families maybe because of the need for a fall-back position if urban income sources collapse, and the protection of land and other assets to which the migrant has a claim back home.” Migration is influenced by both push and pull factors (Jones, 1990). In Indonesia, these relate to the economy, the ecology, landholding, the market, education, household characteristics, age, gender, and the social network (Spaan 1999). Spaan (1999) has found that rich households tend to diversify their economic base, while the smallholding households’ strategies are more diffuse. Greater access to resources could result in a preference to invest in a higher educational attainment of household members. This in its turn could lead to a high outmigration propensity of these members, who might seek higher education or better remunerated employment elsewhere. Households of the extended and joint types more often seem to resort to labour circulation, especially in those cases where the
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dependency ratio10 is low. Higher levels of out-migration do not necessarily correspond with a low socio-economic status of the household; the creation of rural non-farm activities inhibits rural out-migration; greater social differentiation does not necessarily lead to a greater volume of out-migration.
3.3 Gender Gender is different from sex. It refers to the psychological, social and cultural differences between men and women (Giddens, 1993). Men and women have different roles in society, which are shaped by the socialization process. Moser (1993) classifies women’s triple gender roles as:
The productive role: comprises work done by both women and men for payment in cash or kind. It includes market production with an exchange value as well as subsistence/home production with both an actual use value and a potential exchange value.
The reproductive role: childbearing/rearing responsibilities and domestic tasks undertaken by women, required to guarantee the maintenance and reproduction of the labour force. It includes not only biological reproduction but also the care and maintenance of the workforce (husband and working children) and the future workforce (infants and school going children).
The community managing role and community politics: comprises activities undertaken primarily by women at the community level, as an extension of their reproductive role. It is usually voluntary, unpaid work and is different from paid work in community politics.
Women’s reproductive role is enacted within the household; their production role can be carried out in the household and in the community, but the community role features only at the level of the community. Understanding women’s triple gender roles is helpful for understanding the impact of outside interventions. Programme and project interventions may bring both positive and negative impacts on women (Thomas-Slayter and Bhatt, 1994). Kevane (2000) argues that credit programmes and projects that help women may have detrimental unintended consequences, such as longer working hours for women, while programmes and projects that change local patriarchal norms might produce more favourable effects for women.
Gender roles vary in different cultures. Gender is also subject to change.
Francis (2000) says that gender relations can change in very complicated ways.
Extra-household activity-regulating social norms influence women’s involvement in agriculture and other economic activities, while norms regulating activities vary considerably across ethnic groups and change over time (Kevane, 2000). Gender roles are also related to age. Francis (2000) has found that, in Africa, older women have less authority over younger women than they had before.
Gender is important in understanding access to resources. Gender is central to men and women when they access and use land and other resources The dependency ratio is equal to the number of individuals aged below 15 or above 64, 10 divided by the number of individuals aged 15 to 64, multiplied by hundred.