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Abstract

Improving farmers’ access to markets is widely recognized as a major development challenge. A review of the literature suggests that indicators of market access may bear little relationship to the specific processes of interest and hence provide misguided evidence of the impacts of improved market access. This paper attempts to “unpack” the dimensions of market access and, in the process, uses farm survey data from Kenya to investigate changes in multiple indicators during the post-liberalization period. Findings show that market access conditions experienced by rural Kenyans exhibit considerable variation across time, space, and indicator type. We suggest ways in which structured hypothesizing and sensitivity analysis may strengthen empirical treatments of market access issues in applied research.

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