Working Paper - Dov Chernichovsky


In an effort to understand the causes of poverty and its perpetuation in an African rural economy, this study analysed household data from the Rural Income Distribution Survey (RIDS) conducted in 1974-75 in Botswana. About 85 percent of Botswana's population in the mid seventies comprised rural households. More than 50 percent of these households were estimated to live below the Poverty Datum Line established by the Government. This fact underscored Botswana's unequal income distribution: the wealthiest 10 percent received 50 percent of rural incomes in the mid-l970s. Animal husbandry provided the lion's share, 44 percent, of average household income. Farming, although pursued with a relatively high share of family labor, provided only an estimated 11 percent of income. One impediment to improvement of agricultural incomes was the relative unavailability of good cleared land for farming. This situation affected adversely mostly female-headed households because they had limited access to productive assets, including cattle, and to wage employment. Improvement in the quality of life among Botswana's rural population at the time of the survey, seemed to require raising the relative returns to crop production, and generating wage employment in the rural areas.