Gender and agricultural productivity: Econometric evidence from Malawi, Tanzania, and Uganda

Jacques C. Julien, Boris E. Bravo-Ureta, Nicholas E. Rada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle in a journalpeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Agricultural productivity gaps between men and women have been widely documented in many sub-Saharan African countries. Fundamentally, though, we contend that women have the same inherent intellectual (and thus farm management) capabilities as men but are inhibited by local conditions that put them at a disadvantage. We, therefore, hypothesize that by controlling for observed socio-economic, geographic, and agro-ecological characteristics, gender related farm productivity gaps would fade. Drawing on the Living Standards Measurement Study–Integrated Surveys on Agriculture for Malawi, Tanzania, and Uganda, we first match on observables to select comparable plots managed by male and female farmers, then estimate correlated true random effects stochastic production frontiers, followed by a meta-frontier to examine total factor productivity (TFP) and benchmarked technical efficiency. At the core of our approach is controlling for systematic observed and unobserved heterogeneity that could bias the comparative analysis. Results are mixed, but they tend to support our hypothesis. In Malawi, where we find market imperfections favor female farmers, women are more efficient than are male farmers and they exhibit TFP performance parity. In contrast, Tanzanian and Ugandan labor market imperfections favor male farmers, as do efficiency and TFP performance estimates.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106365
JournalWorld Development
Early online date16 Aug 2023
StatePublished - Nov 2023

Bibliographical note

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© 2023 Elsevier Ltd


  • Correlated true random effects
  • Gender gap
  • Stochastic meta-frontier
  • Stochastic production frontier
  • sub-Saharan Africa
  • Technical efficiency
  • Total factor productivity


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