Rural poverty remains widespread and persistent in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and this is the case in both land-abundant and land-scarce countries. The unequal distribution of land ownership and cultivation rights constitutes a fundamental characteristic of many poor countries, where the majority of the poor live in rural areas and depend on agriculture as a main source of income. While the land distributions in China, northern Vietnam, and Ethiopia are egalitarian due to past land reform, many farmers are poor as they have been allocated only tiny plots of land with weak individual land rights, which may have suppressed their incentives to invest in land and to transfer land to other more productive farmers. The rural poor have limited access not only to land but also to off-farm income sources, as they are generally uneducated and do not possess skills needed in non-farm jobs (Otsuka et al., 2009).
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Stein T. Holden
- Palgrave Macmillan UK