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In the course of economic development there is a general downward trend of agricultural employment, although structural change in agriculture is often delayed. In the EU-15, agricultural employment decreased by -2.3% p.a. (measured in regular persons) and -3.0% p.a. (measured in annual working units) between 1995 and 2000. In some of the new EU Member States, employment in agriculture plummeted in the early 1990s, whereas in others it increased during the first years of transition and has served as a social buffer in times of economic hardship. The most important determinants of agricultural employment changes are labor saving technical progress, the macroeconomic environment, the farm structure, socio-economic characteristics of the farmer and agricultural support policies. Currently, farmers in the enlarged EU are facing significant policy changes, both in the EU-15 (2003 CAP reform) and in the new Member States (CAP introduction). The results of 15 case studies assessing the future development of agricultural employment and the impact of CAP reform/introduction confirm the general downward trend which overall will not be much affected by these policy changes. However, the case studies also reveal significant differences between regions and enterprises.


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