Labour, leisure and household income in rural settlements: an empirical assessment in the Atlantic Zone of Costa Rica

R. Ruben, A. de Ruiter

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Abstract

The relationship between labour use, the availability of leisure time and the generation of income in rural farm households is often depicted as an implicit or explicit trade-off. This article presents a review of current theories regarding the supply, demand and use of labour at farm household level, followed by an empirical assessment of time allocation of labour and the composition of farm household income in a sample of peasant households located in different types of agrarian settlements at the Atlantic Zone of Costa Rica. Structural determinants of labour use and leisure choice, as well as the relationship between household income and the availability of leisure are determined. Major differences in land use and labour allocation between settlements according to the period of colonization (old or recent) and the type of colonization (spontaneous or organized) are outlined. Small farms in organized settlements rely on labour-intensive cropping systems that guarantee higher incomes at the expense of leisure, while farms in spontaneous and more remote settlements still maintain labour-extensive production with reliance on wage labour. Empirical evidence points towards a clear trade-off between leisure-time and marginal income as well as possibilities for substitution of family labour by hired labour to increase leisure. Personal characteristics ( i.e. education, age, work attitudes) and farm characteristics ( i.e. location, farm size, lifetime) are identified as relevant factors to explain leisure choice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-220
JournalLeisure Studies
Volume21
Issue number3/4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2003

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