Intrahousehold Productivity Differentials and Land Quality in the Sudan Savanna of Mali

Melinda Smale, Véronique Thériault, Hamza Haider and Alpha Oumar Kergna


Inefficient allocation of resources has been documented in West African farming systems where food is produced by extended family farms on multiple plots managed by different members. We revisit this question in Mali by testing fertilizer use and productivity differentials, while introducing soil nutrient measurements as indicators of land quality. In contrast with previous studies, we find little evidence that intrahousehold allocation of fertilizer is inefficient. Gender and generation gaps in productivity persist but lessen as we control for land quality. Findings suggest that women’s fields may be less fertile but may also reflect distinctive objectives and modes of production. (JEL O12, Q18)

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