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Impact of off-farm labor supply on food expenditures of the farm household

Chang, Hung-Hao, Mishra, Ashok
Food policy 2008 v.33 no.6 pp. 657-664
labor, off-farm employment, households, food purchasing, household surveys, farm families, farmers, spouses, decision making, household income, household expenditure, United States
Farm households diversify their income sources by working off the farm. This is a risk management strategy that is used by farm households in both developed and developing countries. Income diversification via off-farm work is associated with higher incomes and food consumption. However, little is known about the association between off-farm work and farm household food expenditures. In an effort to bridge this gap, this study attempts to assess the impact of off-farm work decisions by the operator and/or the spouse on the food expenditures of the farm household. Using a nationwide farm household survey in the United States and new econometric method, we find that the decisions of the operator and/or the spouse to work off the farm are significantly interrelated (29%). However, these two decisions affect food expenditures in different ways. The operator's off-farm work decision is positively related to food expenditures, while the spouse's decision is negatively associated with expenditures on food by the farm household.