Policy highlights:

Based on surveys conducted in eight African countries, this research investigates household economic activities, income and wellbeing, with special attention to agriculture.

The research produced two outstanding ‘myth-busts’:




  • Labour is much less productive in agriculture (False): In Africa, it is often assumed that labour is intrinsically far less productive in agriculture than elsewhere in the economy. Although the value added per agricultural worker in Africa is 6 times lower than that for a non-agricultural worker, this factor drops to 1.6 when controlled for the amount of hours worked, differences in human capital, production for own consumption and income diversification across sectors. “This shifts the policy focus from getting people out of agriculture per se to making better use of labour in agriculture.” (pg. 9).
  • Women provide the bulk of the labour in African agriculture (False): It is widely believed that women provide 60–80% of the labour in agriculture in Africa. However, this statistic has been questioned before, and, based on the data from this research, it appears that women contribute only 40% of the labour for crop production.

For a complete overview of the myths and facts, see the table below.


Source: Christiaensen, 2017

Connected themes
Share this post