Rural youth aspiring to occupations beyond agriculture: Evidence from Young Lives Study in Ethiopia

by Yisak Tafere and Tassew Woldehanna

The data presented in this paper is drawn from Young Lives longitudinal study in Ethiopia. It used three rounds of surveys and qualitative sub-studies conducted among the same children born in 1994 drawn from 12 rural communities.  

The results show that both parents and children preferred non-farming to farming occupations for the latter. That both have similar occupational aspirations suggest that parents have significant influence since early age of the children. Parents who experience the challenging farming life wanted their children to have non-agricultural occupations, usually with higher returns.

Children keep changing their occupational aspiration over time mainly based on their educational achievements. Farming has rarely been object of aspiration for children but emerged as outcome for those who could not achieve educational aspirations. We argue, therefore, food security in Africa should be guaranteed not just by engaging those with ‘failed’ aspirations but those who aspire and learn to be ‘farmers.’  This needs lifting the status of farming so that rural youth could aspire for, invest on and live by it.

File: Tafere & Woldehanna, Rural youth aspiring to occupations.pdf