Project Research Theme 0: Data, Measurement, and Conceptual Framing, Research Theme 2: Labour, Home Production, and Structural Transformation at the Level of the Household, Cross-Cutting Issue 1: Gender, Cross-Cutting Issue 3: Inequality and Inclusion

Labour Exchange Groups in Rural Tanzania: Can They Foster Development and Women’s Empowerment?

Active project

Years active

  • to

Funding category

  • Small Research Grants

The project investigates informal working arrangements between women in the rural area around Bukoba, in northwestern Tanzania. Qualitative interviews revealed that some women landowners organise themselves into labour groups, in which they work as a team on the group members' farms, usually following a predetermined schedule. This type of arrangement can help them to achieve economies of scale, stay motivated while working and improve their network. The project aims to determine whether participation in such groups also enables women to be hired more often by external landlords or to obtain better wages when hired. 
The project combines a theoretical model and empirical work. The theoretical model shows why women who organize themselves in groups and monitor each other when working in teams are more likely to be hired as employees. Data are collected to test the mechanisms of the theoretical model: 300 people are interviewed, in ten villages, and are divided equally into the following categories: male landlords, female farm workers who participate in a labour group and female farm workers who do not participate in a labour group. A baseline data collection identifies the main characteristics of each household and an eight-week follow-up telephone survey collects detailed information on work. The combination of the two types of interviews is interesting because it provides information on whether women who choose to participate in labour groups are different from those who do not, as well as on the employment contracts preferred by workers and landlords. The telephone survey collects daily information on work activities and is more reliable than most labour surveys.
On the one hand, agricultural workers in this region of the world have difficulty getting hired because the demand for labour is scarce. The labour market can therefore play only a limited role in reducing poverty; women have difficulty earning income outside the household, which also limits their autonomy. On the other hand, landlords are sometimes reluctant to hire because of the high supervision costs involved. If groups improve the functioning of the labour market, they are useful for both workers and landlords. Women could be further encouraged to form such teams. They are widespread in the study district, but this may not be the case in other parts of Tanzania/Africa.

Small Research Grants

Closed • Deadline • Small Research Grants

Research Team

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