U.S. Agricultural Labor Out-migration Determinants, 1939-2004

Using annual U.S. time series data from 1939 to 2004, we assess economic determinants of migration out of agriculture for four groups of migrants in the United States – hired farm workers, farm operators, farm family workers, and a composite group of farm workers. For each group, various specifications of the farm-nonfarm labor returns differential are major determinants of agricultural out-migration. Conservation program payments contribute to hired farm worker out-migration, stave off farm family worker migration, but do not affect migration for farm operators and total agricultural workers. Federal income and price support payments fail to slow out-migration the four groups. Increased agricultural land values reduce the flow of both hired farm workers and farm operators out of agriculture, but do not contribute to out-migration of farm family workers and agricultural workers in general. Off-farm income suppresses total agricultural labor out-migration. Our findings suggests the need for alternative government policies – such as those directly affecting job creation and rural economic developing efforts – to stem farm employment losses and to maintain the rural economic viability.

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Replaced with revised version of paper 06/01/06.
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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2018-01-22

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