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PROJECT TOPIC: FARMER EDUCATION AND FARM EFFICIENCY: A SURVEY

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This paper surveys the findings of 18 studies conducted in low-income countries concerning the extent to which the educational level of small farmers affects their production efficiency. The 18 studies include analyses of 37 sets of farm data that allow statistical estimation of the effect of education, with other variables controlled. In 6 of these data sets, education was found to have a negative (but statistically insignificant) effect, but in the remaining 31, the effect was positive and usually statistically significant. Though combining the results of disparate studies must be done with caution, our overall conclusion is that farm productivity increases, on the average, by 7.4% as a result of a farmer’s completing four years of elementary education rather than none; the 7.4% is a weighted average of value from those studies for which an estimate could be computed. A number of studies showed evidence of a threshold number of years (4 to 6) at which the effect of education became more pronounced. The effects of education were much more likely to be positive in modernizing agricultural environments rather than in traditional ones, which we ascertained both by inspection and by regressing (across studies) the measured effect of education on productivity against modernization of the environment and other variables. In 16 of the samples, data were available on the farmers’ exposure to agricultural extension education; of these studies, 8 provided evidence that extension was significantly and positively related to efficiency.


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