Rural Households’ Livelihood and Well-Being

The Wye Group Handbook

Rural Households’ Livelihood
and Well-Being

Statistics on Rural Development and
Agriculture Household Income

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Statistical Office of the European Communities (Eurostat)
United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
The World Bank
Rome 2007


Large amounts of public funds are used to support farmers and their households in OECD countries. The current round of multi-lateral trade liberalization negotiations will almost certainly require some degree of farm policy reform in developed – if not developing – countries. International trade agreements already point in the direction of the likely outcome - a requirement that domestic farm support distorts world markets as little as possible. To achieve this, market interventions are often replaced by direct payments to farm households. Understanding the ultimate market impacts of these direct payments depends on having data on farm households that includes the farm operation and also all their other activities. Focus on farm accounts and business is not sufficient.

Increasing sums are being spent on rural areas, the livelihoods and well-being of people who live there, and conservation of the natural environment. Agricultural policy reform is likely to move spending further in this direction. In the rural areas of developed economies farms are often no longer the mainstay of the economy, particularly in OECD countries. Many of the problems of farm families can only be addressed by creating economic opportunities outside agriculture. Statistics for rural areas need to go far beyond agriculture and cover a wide range of economic, social and environmental indicators.

Less developed countries, where agriculture is still relatively important in rural areas, poverty is a major policy issue. In such circumstances income may be displaced as an indicator by consumption. Nevertheless, household incomes are seeing changes that move them towards the patterns observed in the developed world. Economies in transition face particular statistical challenges concerning their agricultures and rural development.

Table of Contents

Executive Summary
I.  Introduction And Background




II.   National And International Rural Development Policies
III.  Conceptual Framework
IV.  Inventory of National Approaches to Rural Development Statistics
V.   Inventory of Rural Indicators by International Organizations
VI.  Data Sources
VII. Approaches In Selecting a Core Set of Indicators




VIII Conceptual Framework – Introduction
IX   The Agricultural Household – Concepts and Definitions
X    Definitions of Income
XI   Income Levels, Distribution and Poverty
XII  Measurement and Composition of Farm Household Wealth
XIII Inventory of Methodologies Used: Agriculture Income and Wealth
XIV Income and Wealth Statistics for Selected Countries
XV  Findings and Good Practices in Statistics on Rural Development
      and Agricultural Household Income




The designations employed in this publication, which are in conformity with the practice of the publishing organizations, and the presentation of material therein do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the publishing organizations concerning the legal status of any country, area or territory or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.

Sales No. E.07.II.E.14
ISBN 978-92-1-116967-6

Publications of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, The World Bank and the Statistical Office of the European Communities (the publishing organisations) enjoy copyright Protocol 2 of the Universal Copyright Convention. Nevertheless, short excerpts from them may be reproduced without authorization, on condition that the source is indicated.

© FAO 2011