A model of labour allocation decision-making in peasant-type households
Lobdell, Richard A.
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The extent of the food crisis in Sub-Saharan Africa is generating a renewed interest in the role of peasants in addressing the food problem. This paper is premised on the view that policy action with respect to agriculture development in Africa requires a realistic model of how rural peasants make decisions. In the first part of the paper we construct a model of such decision-making. The model focuses on peasant-type households as described and analysed by Chayanov. A central characteristic of such households is their attempt to seek a total of satisfactions, as producing and consuming units, rather than the pursuit of profit maximisation inherent in many microeconomic models of rural households. In the attempt to achieve its objectives, the household must make decisions concerning the allocation of its principal productive resource, labour. The model outlines the manner in which labour allocation decisions are made, subject to plausible constraints operating on rural households in Africa. The second part of the paper examines some of the implications of this model for various rural development policies.