The objective of this paper is to explore the determinants to leave agriculture and change occupational sector. We adopt a 3-step multivariate probit where we control for selection bias at two stages in the decisions to work and, at a later stage, exit agriculture. The analysis is based on the European Union Labour Force Survey data expanded with additional regional indicators. The main results suggest that younger individuals are more likely to leave farming activities, although the largest outflows of agricultural labour are mainly associated with the retirement of people. Self-employed and family workers are generally less likely to leave agriculture and those with low levels of educations are found to be significantly constrained in entering the non-farm economy. Moreover, labour market conditions at the regional level do matter for switching occupational sector. Differences in the results among the selected new member states and the EU-15 can be explained by the diverse production structures, suggesting different capacities to release and absorb labour.
Barbara Tocco, Alastair Bailey and Sophia Davidova are researchers at the University of Kent, School of Economics (UNIKENT).