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Collective influence of household and community capitals on agricultural employment as a measure of rural poverty in the Mahanadi Delta, India

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  • T. Berchoux
  • G.R. Watmough
  • F. Amoako Johnson
  • C.W. Hutton
  • P.M. Atkinson
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/01/2020
<mark>Journal</mark>AMBIO: A Journal of the Human Environment
Issue number1
Number of pages18
Pages (from-to)281-298
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date9/03/19
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The main determinants of agricultural employment are related to households’ access to private assets and the influence of inherited social–economic stratification and power relationships. However, despite the recommendations of rural studies which have shown the importance of multilevel approaches to rural poverty, very few studies have explored quantitatively the effects of common-pool resources and household livelihood capitals on agricultural employment. Understanding the influence of access to both common-pool resources and private assets on rural livelihoods can enrich our understanding of the drivers of rural poverty in agrarian societies, which is central to achieving sustainable development pathways. Based on a participatory assessment conducted in rural communities in India, this paper differentiates two levels of livelihood capitals (household capitals and community capitals) and quantifies them using national census data and remotely sensed satellite sensor data. We characterise the effects of these two levels of livelihood capitals on precarious agricultural employment by using multilevel logistic regression. Our study brings a new perspective on livelihood studies and rural economics by demonstrating that common-pool resources and private assets do not have the same effect on agricultural livelihoods. It identifies that a lack of access to human, financial and social capitals at the household level increases the levels of precarious agricultural employment, such as daily-wage agricultural labour. Households located in communities with greater access to collective natural capital are less likely to be agricultural labourers. The statistical models also show that proximity to rural centres and access to financial infrastructures increase the likelihood of being a landless agricultural labourer. These findings suggest that investment in rural infrastructure might increase livelihood vulnerability, if not accompanied by an improvement in the provisioning of complementary rural services, such as access to rural finance, and by the implementation of agricultural tenancy laws to protect smallholders’ productive assets.