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Abstract

This research highlight presents findings on key features of rural off-farm work and incomes in Myanmar’s Dry Zone. It is based on analysis of data collected by the Rural Economy and Agriculture in Dry Zone (READZ) survey in 2017. READZ surveyed 1578 households in four townships: Budalin Township (Sagaing Region), Magway and Pwintbyu Townships (Magway Region), and Myittha Township (Mandalay Region). For this study, we define off-farm income as income originating from any work or activity that individuals perform away from their own household’s farm – thus it includes agricultural work for pay. We divide sources of off-farm income into two categories: “employment” and “self-employment”. Employment refers to any activity earning a wage or salary, and includes both temporary casual labor (“wage work”) and steady longer-term employment (“salaried work”). In contrast, “self-employment” refers to any off-farm activity that remunerates the individual in the form of profits from sales of goods or services. This includes all types of non-farm enterprise (including trade, retail, crafts, and services) as well as self-directed resource extraction activities (fishing, wood collection, etc.). Our results highlight the diversity of the off-farm economy in the Dry Zone and the growing reliance on off-farm income sources among rural households. We present our results in three parts. First we provide an overview of off-farm incomes in the Dry Zone. Second, we analyze the details of rural employment in greater detail. Third, we analyze patterns in self-employment.

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