Growing Rice and Growing Rich: Agricultural Participation and Labor Monetization in a Transitional Economy

James Hull, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Many studies suggest "monetization" is a factor causally related to myriad social and economic changes. But few researchers at present have addressed the difficult questions of how "monetization" occurs and what forces are behind it. I present data from rural Northeast Thailand, where ongoing monetization of multiple economic sectors has occurred in recent decades. Of paramount importance in this context is the traditional subsistence occupation of rice growing. Using a Heckman model to take into account endogenous selection into rice- and non-rice-growing households, I examine factors influencing the probability of households engaging in monetized labor acquisition for their 1994 and 2000 rice harvests. Findings suggest rice farming is part of a suite of agricultural behaviors and dominated by larger, younger families with fewer migrants. Households that engage in monetized labor transactions tend to be smaller, less traditional, and in possession of greater consumptive assets than those relying on non-monetized labor.

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Presented in Session 12: Population, Development, and Natural Resources