The effect of land inheritance on youth employment and migration decisions
This discussion paper (PDF) by IFPRI explores how the amount of land that youth expect to inherit affects their migration and employment decisions in rural Ethiopia. By using panel data from 2010 and 2014 it is found that larger expected land inheritance significantly lowers the likelihood of long-distance permanent migration and of permanent migration to urban areas. Inheriting more land is also associated with a significantly higher likelihood of employment in agriculture and a lower likelihood of employment in the non-agricultural sector. Overall, the results suggest that inheritance strongly influences the spatial location and strategic employment decisions of youth, especially in areas with less vibrant land markets and in relatively remote areas. It also shows that migration or non-agricultural employment is a last resort after exhausting all means of access to land. Furthermore, rural inhabitants tend to diversify sectorally, particularly in areas constrained by land availability, rather than exit agriculture altogether. The findings have broader implications for the development strategies available to Ethiopia. Absent government intervention, the decline in arable land over time may increase youth unemployment and urbanization. In this regard, relaxing policy-induced frictions in the land rental market in the country or otherwise freeing up land for individual use can reduce youth unemployment. Educational campaigns will be crucial to absorb the fraction of youth with limited opportunities for land ownership. Finally, there is a growing need to initiate modernization in the agricultural sector. Agricultural growth will increase rural household welfare, generating the demand for auxiliary services and goods, which landless rural youth can provide.