Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivations and Participation in Off-farm Work Among U.S. Farm Women

The diversity of farmwomen's lives today reflects the diversity of agriculture itself. In the past century, farming has undergone dramatic structural, technological and managerial changes (Ahearn and Lee, 1991; Gardner, 1992). One of the major changes has been a decline in the number of farms and an increase in the multiple job-holding by farm household members, especially among women on U.S. farms (Hallberg et al., 1991). In the United States, around 71 percent households have either the principal farm operator or spouse or both employed in off-farm jobs (Mishra, El-Osta, Morehart, Johnson and Hopkins, 2002). Families combine farming with other off-farm activities for different objectives such as career development, lifestyle or personal fulfillment (Barlett, 1986). According to several studies, the growth of small farms in the United States and Canada may be due to the motivation of farm members to seek off-farm employment to support a favored lifestyle (Coughenour and Swanson, 1983; Bryden, 1994; Bessant, 2000). Fuller and Madge (1976) note that off-farm employment gives farm families a chance to interact with new people and to stabilize farm incomes. Mishra and Goodwin (1997) and Mishra (1996) found a positive correlation between off-farm employment and farm income variability, indicating that off-farm employment helps many farm households to diversify income risks. Studies have documented women’s extensive participation in farm and off-farm work. Rosenfeld (1985), studying on U.S. farm women in 1980, concluded that higher average education levels, advances in labor-saving technologies in the home, and smaller family sizes have contributed to the trend toward more U.S farm women being employed off the farm. The off-farm income contributions of women have increased, due to both higher participation rates of farm women in external (off-farm) labor markets and to the higher real wages earned by women today (Olfert, 1993; Findeis, 2002). In the 1980 U.S. National Farm Survey (Rosenfeld, 1985), reasons for working off-farm varied: 57% of farm women reported financial reasons, 18% stated social reasons, 16% acknowledged maintenance of career skills, and the remaining 9% gave other (miscellaneous) reasons for working off-farm. The larger proportion of women employed off the farm for financial reasons suggests that working women have an important role in keeping the farm financially secure. Several studies also indicate that farm women prefer to work off-farm as it is associated with better living conditions, more stable income, economic independence, social security, better work conditions and social acknowledgment and respect (Efstratoglou, 1998; O’Hara, 1998). Different motivations to work off-farm exist and depend on the prevailing circumstances of the farm household and available off-farm job opportunities. But very few studies have analyzed the factors affecting work motivations, and the impacts of these motivations on individual behavior, e.g., the decision to engage in off-farm employment. Researchers have divided work motivations into economic and non-economic, or extrinsic and intrinsic, motivations. A person is extrinsically motivated when he/she works because of the monetary compensation for work; in contrast, an intrinsically-motivated individual derives direct utility from the work per se (Cappellari and Turati, 2004). Theories have been developed in relation to extrinsic and intrinsic motivations and how motivations, individually or the relationship between these motivations, might affect individual behavior (Ambrose and Kulik, 1999). Working at a non-farm job requires both motivation to enter the rural non-farm economy and ability to extract a continuous and rewarding livelihood from it. Factors such as the policy environment, institutions and vulnerability context in combination with individual characteristics, family characteristics, farm-related factors, financial, and locational characteristics of different households, will result in differing rural non-farm economy entry motivations, access capabilities and livelihood trajectories. Methodology and Data Given the above perspective, this paper examines factors affecting motivations for off-farm work among farm women in the U.S. Women were asked to rank different reasons for working in an off-farm job varying from not important, to somewhat important, to very important. Models are estimated in response to the motivation questions in the 2001 Penn State survey. Since the motivation questions on the 2001 Women on Farms Survey are answered by only farm women working off-farm, the problem of sample selection bias may exist. Hence, ordered probit models corrected for sample selection bias are estimated for the motivation choices. Further, few studies have estimated the impact of extrinsic vs. intrinsic motivations on individual work/activity participation. Hence, for this paper, motivations to work off-farm are divided into intrinsic and extrinsic motivations using the technique of factor analysis and then a multinomial logit model is estimated to understand the influence of selected factors on intrinsic and extrinsic work motivations in the case of off-farm work decision. The paper uses data from a national survey of U.S. farm women conducted by Pennsylvania State University in collaboration with researchers at the Economic Research Service (ERS, USDA) and the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS, USDA). The analysis outlined above will further our understanding of farm household off-farm work choices, with a strong focus on the labor decisions of farm women. Contribution The study not only improves understanding of how individual, human capital, farm and family, and labor market characteristics as well as regional variations affect individual work motivations, but also motivations to work for intrinsic and extrinsic reasons. If U.S. farm households are diversifying their economic activities to a greater extent now than in the past, then it is important to understand the motivations, means and outcomes of this heterogeneous diversifying process, so that appropriate rural development initiatives can be introduced to facilitate off-farm job opportunities and higher non-farm wages.

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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2017-04-26

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