Academic journal article Agricultural Economics Review

Requirements towards and Discrimination against Agricultural Workers - Evidence from a Discrete Choice Experiment among East German Farms

Academic journal article Agricultural Economics Review

Requirements towards and Discrimination against Agricultural Workers - Evidence from a Discrete Choice Experiment among East German Farms

Article excerpt


Using a discrete choice experiment on the basis of stated preference data from East Germany, attributes of workers are evaluated. Relevant attributes for the experiment were derived from earlier studies and a vocational classification system. Results show that reliability is the most preferred attribute of a worker, followed by having graduated from vocational school with an A and interest in the occupation. Older, female and workers with a migration background are discriminated against. Significant differences in preferences can be found by introducing four subject-specific variables - type of farming, farmer's sex and education as well as farm acreage.

Keywords: workforce, requirements, discrimination, discrete choice.

JEL classification: Q1, C25, J24, J71.

(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)


Due to structural change, hired labour in agriculture still gains significance. Family farms become larger and thus the need for non-family workers increases. At the same time, educational needs for these workers rise since working in agriculture becomes more complex, not only because of more sophisticated farm equipment but also due to a higher degree of rules and requirements by authorities.

Stakeholders in German agriculture are increasingly concerned about an imminent skills shortage among the workforce on the production level. This personnel-related risk constitutes a problem for farms because the workforce's qualifications are going to match the requirements to an increasingly lesser degree. East Germany's agricultural sector features a high degree of division of labour and a very qualified and specialised workforce. Qualifications of a farm's employees can be seen as a competitive advantage while making the farm dependent on it at the same time. Management of the farm must ensure that an employee's qualification match the functional and technical requirements of the position.

Generally, it is the main task of educational and extension institution in agriculture to avoid a too high share of miss-qualified workers. An analysis of respective preferences on the production level is therefore needed.

The paper at hand should be understood as a contribution to tackle this problem. The paper at hand features a double focus. First, competences of workers shall be evaluated in order to provide a solid basis for policy makers in educational contexts. Furthermore, also socio-demographic attributes of workers are subject to evaluation in order to detect certain discrimination patterns among farms. The latter aspect, however, is not the main focus of this paper but can be seen as additional result that might be of interest for rural sociology.

Preferences of employers with respect to employees in agriculture have not been researched very comprehensively. Ricard et al. (2008) employed a survey for workers in American arboriculture. The study of Kitchen et al. (2002) was geared towards the requirements for using precision agriculture equipment. Hansen, Holmes, and Jimmerson (1989), Gerds (2010), and Petty and Stewart (1983) surveyed concerning desired backgrounds of workers. Most research in the field is either out-of-date or neglects the production level by more focusing on agribusiness as a whole, e. g. Onianwa et al. (2005), Radhakrishna and Bruening (1994) or Litzenberg, Gorman, and Schneider (1983).

The aforementioned papers rather employed a standard survey design. Workers could thus not be considered as a whole by the decision maker, meaning that employers did not have to perform trade-offs while considering desired worker attributes. This aspect is a feature of discrete choice settings. Utilization of discrete choice or conjoint analysis approaches for the evaluation of employer's preferences with respect to employees cannot be considered extensive. Biesma et al. (2007) asked employers in the Dutch health business to evaluate students. Moy and Lam (2004) employed conjoint analysis for employer's evaluation of employees for different economic sectors (without agriculture) in China. …

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