Households, Farms and Off-farm Work: Gender Relations in Farm Restructuring (16717)
Policymakers increasingly look to off farm work as a means of supporting farms and farm households, especially in times when farm returns are poor. Reports the Productivity Commission’s (1999) inquiry into drought assistance assume that off-farm work exists to support the farm enterprise. This ignores the fact that most off-farm work is done by women and overlooks the complex relationships among farms, farm householders and rural labour markets. This paper draws on a survey of farms in Victoria to examine these relationships and to contribute to debates about the role of off-farm work in transforming gendered household relations. We find, as expected, that most off-farm work is done by women in circumstances unrelated to the fortunes of the farm, while men’s off-farm is more likely to depend on on-farm demands. However, we also find that men are more than five times more likely to work off-farm when their spouse also works off-farm. We suggest that off-farm work reworks gendered relationships to trigger institutional realignments and contribute to farm restructuring.