|CERES No. 109 (FAO Ceres, 1986, 50 p.)|
by Alain de Janvry
The growing interdependencies and uncertainties of world agriculture today have three characteristics. One is the rise of the marketed surplus as a share of agricultural output, indicating the growing commercialization of agriculture and its increasing exposure to terms of trade movements, be they the result of market forces or of institutional interventions. The second is the rapid growth of international trade for agricultural products and the concomitant increase in food and feed dependency for Third World countries, particularly those with rapid rates of economic growth. The third is the increasing instability of prices of tradable agricultural commodities measured in domestic currencies; a significant share of this instability originates in international capital movements and exchange rate fluctuations. This growing integration of agriculture in the national and world economy substantially redefines the options and dilemmas that Third World countries face in the design of strategies for food security and in the making of agricultural policy. This article explores some of the policy options available to developing countries, stressing the role that interdependencies and uncertainties play in the choices that can be made to improve their food security.
Contradictory functions. One of the great difficulties in using prices as a policy instrument is that many of their functions are contradictory. Prices affect both economic growth and social welfare, and in a contradictory fashion, since prices are a source of revenues for some classes and a source of costs for others. Low agricultural prices can stimulate industrial growth but lead to agricultural stagnation; they can raise the real income of consumers but lower that of producers and reduce employment opportunities for landless workers. There also exist conflicts between short- and long-term redistribution objectives obtained through price manipulation, since the short-run effects obtained for a given supply of agricultural commodities are often the opposite of the long-term consequences once the impact of prices on output growth has been felt. The contradictory effects of price policy as a joint growth and welfare instrument are evidenced by simulations in computable general equilibrium (CGE) models for India.
In the short run, price increases induce supply response and increase the real incomes of farmers with holdings large enough to have a positive marketed surplus. Even though output growth in agriculture creates employment for the landless and stimulates industrial growth (India), higher food prices decrease the real incomes of landless rural workers and of urban workers and the urban poor. In the long run, if prices are allowed to fall under the pressure of increased supply, the real incomes of net food-buying classes increase while those of net-selling farmers fall. The greater the elasticity of supply response, the more the price incentives to agriculture induce industrial growth through sectoral linkages, final demand, and savings/investment effects.
A similar dilemma between growth and welfare effects occurs with food subsidies financed out of public investable funds. For India, CGE model simulations show that decreasing urban food subsidies to increase public irrigation investment is expansionary on GNP. The urban classes are hurt in the short run by the loss of subsidies, but enhanced productivity benefits the urban classes in the future as well. In Egypt, when a foreign exchange constraint exists, targeting food subsidies formerly received by the rich is expansionary and deflationary and increases the real income of all classes except the urban rich. These studies indicate that equitable growth can be reached by a combination of investment allocation toward labour-intensive sectors with high potential productivity gains, such as irrigation of small farms producing mass consumption goods, and targeted subsidies to protect the poor until the income effects of increased investment benefit them.
Institutional interventions. It is because of these many contradictory functions of prices that most governments are reluctant to leave the determination of prices to market forces and instead try to control their effects through a range of institutional interventions. Some of the objectives of these interventions are: to protect consumer welfare, to generate public revenues, to enhance farm incomes, to create foreign exchange earnings, to increase food security, to stabilize prices, to improve nutrition, and to redistribute income among regions and individuals.
Thus, a central dilemma of price policy is that too few instruments are expected to satisfy too many objectives. The resulting mismanagement of price policy leads to stagnation of production and rural poverty, a phenomenon all too widespread in less-developed countries.
Two solutions exist. One consists of reducing the number of policy objectives. This is, in essence, the neo-liberal solution which abandons concerns with welfare and assigns to prices (left to the determination of market forces) and to individual initiatives the role of efficient resource allocation. The other consists of increasing the number of instruments in order to relieve prices from fulfilling many of the functions that state intervention has attempted to achieve through them. Rural welfare, for example, can be enhanced by land reform and by increasing peasants' labour productivity. Public revenues can be raised by land taxes. The nutritional status of the poor can be improved by income transfers and creation of employment. Thus, increasing the number of policy instruments allows the confining of prices to the role they best perform: to serve as guides for the efficient allocation of resources in an institutional context moulded by structural interventions.
In this case, prices of tradable goods are determined by border prices at an equilibrium exchange rate, and prices of non-tradables by equilibrium between supply and demand. This allows elimination of price distortions against agriculture that have typically originated in overvalued exchange rates and protectionism to industrial inputs. Eliminating these distortions permits the removal of credit and input subsidies in agriculture, which are sources of socially discriminatory institutional rents introduced in compensation for unfavourable product prices. Price policy interventions remain necessary, however, to manage a system of flexible exchange rates, to stabilize prices, and to supervise, through protectionism, the transition between price regimes, particularly if the farm sector contains large segments of peas ants with limited alternative options in the economy. Short of structural policies that redistribute assets and income (e.g., land reform), food subsidies are also necessary for that segment of the population with insufficient access to land and employment opportunities.
Most developing countries have passed through a phase of import substitution industrialization followed, in the most successful cases of the last 15 years, by a phase of export-led growth. The feasibility of these two development strategies is now limited: the first because of inefficiencies created by indiscriminate protectionism and increasingly inegalitarian income distribution induced by a luxury goods bias in industrial production; the second because present international market conditions severely limit exports of industrial products to industrialized countries.
Favouring agricultural growth. In the present international economic context, it thus seems that an investment strategy that favours food production in peasant agriculture or on labour-intensive commercial farms and that induces industrialization on the basis of agricultural growth is the most appropriate to insure both sustained growth and improved welfare for the masses of the population, at least in countries that still have large rural populations.
The examples of Taiwan province, the Republic of Korea, and China, as well as that of the industrialized countries in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries shows the possibilities of an industrialization led by accelerated agricultural development. Rural development-led growth recently has been advocated for India and the Republic of Korea. Adelman shows how, in Korea, the reallocation of investment from the services and industrial consumption goods sectors to rice production leads to GNP growth and to equality in income distribution which are both greater than in the current strategy of export-led industrialization. The key to the success of this development strategy is to stimulate productivity growth in agriculture and to control the forces of the technological treadmill so that the fall in prices lags behind the fall in costs. Also essential to the results of this strategy are an extensive redistributive land reform; human capital formation; labour markets that perform to translate productivity gains into wage gains; and an industrial sector, most likely created in a prior phase of import substitution industrialization, able - to respond to domestic demand.
The CGE results for India show that reallocating investment away from industry toward irrigation infrastructure for wheat production is expansionary on GNP and progressive on the distribution of income. Only large farmers lose if the fall in prices associated with increased output is not mitigated by some price protection. In Egypt, CGE results also show that increasing the share of agriculture in total investment increases the GNP and raises the real income of all social classes.
The neo-liberal school insists on the need to improve the terms of trade for agriculture, to stimulate production, and to reduce the size of the public sector-the latter, in particular, to decrease the surplus that it extracts from agriculture. This is, for example, the philosophy of the Berg report for accelerated development in sub-Saharan Africa. Even though it is certainly necessary to set prices at the equilibrium level determined by market forces, it is also fundamental to realize that (1) this price system is necessary but not sufficient to induce agricultural development and (2) there exist technologies and structural alternatives that allow raising agricultural output faster and with more progressive results on income distribution than would be the case with price incentives.
Low elasticity. The reason prices have limited inducement effect is that aggregate supply elasticity in developing countries tends to be low. This is the case in Africa, for instance, where estimates of this elasticity range between 0.05 and 0.15. This is due fundamentally to the lack of new technological options, to constraints on farmers for access to modern inputs, and to exhaustion of possibilities of horizontal expansion. Under these conditions, increasing agricultural prices result in income transfers from consumers (and, proportionally, the poorest ones) toward producers with the largest marketed surplus. An effective use of price policy thus requires prior structural change to "elasticize" the aggregate agricultural supply response.
The CGE model for India shows that the poorer classes (landless agricultural workers, small farmers who are net buyers of foods, and urban workers) benefit from a policy of technological change in agriculture with flexible prices but are negatively affected by a policy of price support whose purpose is to stimulate output under conditions of inelastic supply. Comparing the two alternatives of increasing wheat production via a system of farm price incentives (with food subsidies to maintain consumer prices at an unchanged level) versus groundwater irrigation and high-yielding varieties shows a present value costs advantage of the latter over the former of 650 per cent at an interest rate of 8 per cent.
The key to agricultural development, thus lies in the implementation of policies of structural change, even if these are more difficult to carry out than are simple policies of price incentives. They must include policies to decrease dualism, reabsorb surplus labour, and increase labour productivity through technological change and human capital formation.
During the 1970s, many countries enjoyed a very rapid growth in some export sectors, while other sectors producing tradable goods stagnated as a result of the success of the first. When populations are trapped in those stagnating sectors, the result can be extensive poverty unless compensatory measures financed by export earnings are instituted. The booming export sectors have typically been primary sectors (petroleum and natural gas) or agricultural sectors with strong international comparative advantages (tea, coffee, animal feeds, drugs, etc.). These have created massive inflows of foreign exchange. Similar effects can originate in the rapid buildup of international debt or in international capital inflows through, say, foreign aid. In all cases, the success of a sector generating foreign exchange creates two types of perverse effects on the sectors that produce tradable goods such as domestic industry and the food sector. The first is a reallocating of resources toward both the booming export sector and the sector of non-tradable goods (services and construction) for which demand increases as a result of income effects in the export sector. The second is a negative effect on the domestic prices of imported goods that results from the inflationary pressures created by incomes in the booming sector and the resulting tendency for real appreciation of the exchange rate. The availability of foreign exchange allows the avoidance of a devaluation, always unpopular with urban sectors and thus the maintenance of low domestic prices for food items and industrial goods.
If the peasantry is principally a producer of staple foods and if fluidity in the reallocation of resources is insufficient to allow peasants to shift their resources to the production of the export or non-tradable sectors, the peasantry finds itself cornered in a stagnating sector under unbearable price conditions. The result is outmigration toward the employment opportunities created by the expanding sectors. If employment creation is not sufficient, the result is poverty and often hanger.
The wisest approach is to pace the inflow of foreign exchange earnings to avoid inflationary pressures, an approach successfully followed by, for example, Cameroon. Short of this, five options are available to protect the peasantry from the negative consequences of unequal sectoral development. Since in many situations the earnings of the export sector create public revenues, these revenues can be used to finance the reforms implied by each of these options.
1. Help the peasantry shift its options to the booming sectors. This was the case, for example, of peasants producing coffee and cacao in the Ivory Coast and of some family farmers who entered fruit production for export in Chile. Since these export products are often capital intensive (tree growing and irrigation for sorghum in Mexico), assistance to peasants requires important credit programmes and technical assistance as well as a stable insertion in the international marketing circuits.
2. Increase the total factor productivity of peasants in food production to enable them to compete with lowpriced imports. This is the objective of projects of integrated rural development and of research to improve traditional peasant production systems.
3. Protect the food items that compete with peasant production, support farm prices above consumer prices, or subsidize farm inputs to compensate for unfavourable product prices. This is the solution that Mexico successfully implemented under the Lopez Portillo administration showing how part of the booming sector revenues can be used to compensate the losers in the tradable sectors. With falling oil prices and the debt crisis this high-cost programme was sacrificed to austerity.
4. Create enough employment opportunities in the expanding sectors to allow peasants ruined by low food prices to be absorbed as workers.
5. Increase the degree of peasant household food self-sufficiency by allowing them to reduce dependency on purchased inputs and satisfy directly a greater share of consumption needs. This implies, in particular, promotion of organic technologies and garden plots as survival strategies.
The two extreme solutions to food security are generally untenable: food self-sufficiency, because it implies excessively high costs; and direct application of the theory of comparative advantage, because it is static, implies too-high risks, and has negative effects on some sectors of the population which are not competitive in an open economy and find themselves dispossessed of sources of revenue. Most countries have attempted to define strategies of food security which make a balanced combination of these two extremes. The problem is, however, not only to define a strategy that gives access to a national consumption vector with high probability but also to insure food security for all segments of the population. As recent experience with the green revolution has demonstrated, in India for example, strong agricultural growth is not sufficient to satisfy this definition of food security.
Food security has two aspects: the level and variability of satisfying nutritional requirements. And it is met through the combination of availability and entitlements where, as Sen has shown, small changes in availability can create large changes in entitlements.16 Availability derives from both domestic production and trade so that the choice variables are what to produce for national consumption, what to produce for export, and what to import. Sarris, for example, shows that aggregate Egyptian food security can be improved by reallocating resources between food (cereals) and cash crops (cotton). The food security problem is defined as the maximization of the risk-discounted expected value of net export receipts of the agricultural sector subject to satisfying both a fixed national risk aversion, the more food crops should be substituted for cash crops at the cost of a reduced net foreign exchange contribution of agriculture.
Access to food in both level and variability is defined differently for different social groups: for subsistence peasants, it depends on access to resources and productivity; for landless farm workers and net-buying marginal farmers it depends on employment, wages, and low food prices: for netselling farmers on favourable terms of trade and productivity; for urban workers on employment, wages and low food prices; and for urban marginals on food subsidies and income transfers. Using the CGE model for the Republic of Korea, Adelman, Berck, and Gordon show how the two components of food security (level and variability) affect specific social classes differently.18 Although in that country subsistence farmers are the worst off in terms of average consumption, the social group with the highest risk of food deficiencies is the urban marginals who are heavily affected by price fluctuations resulting from instability in both domestic production and world prices. Improving food security of different social groups thus requires different policy instruments. For subsistence farmers, it calls on policies that can raise their mean income, while for the urban poor it requires policies that reduce their vulnerability to instability.
In Egypt, food insecurity originates in both international price movements and fluctuations in domestic yields. Among social classes, fluctuations in international prices and yields affect most the real income of the urban rich through the positive economic growth effects that rising yields and falling world prices have on overall economic growth. High variability in international prices under conditions of extreme food dependency implies that the coefficient of variation in the real income of the poor is larger in the urban sector than in the rural sector. As in Korea, improving the food security of the rural poor requires raising their level of entitlement, while improving that of the urban poor requires reducing the viability in their entitlements. In India, which is basically a closed economy and where food insecurity originates principally in fluctuations in the yields of food grains, it is the rural poor who are most exposed to fluctuations in entitlements arising from unstable yields. Among the rural poor, it is the landless workers whose access to food varies most since yield fluctuations create, in the short run, proportional fluctuations in employment opportunities. Declining output thus hurts them both through falling employment and through rising land prices, which lowers their real wages. In this case, improving the food security of the poorest requires the use of policy instruments that both raise the level and reduce the variability of their food entitlements.
Security of entitlement. With an increasingly integrated agriculture in the national and world economy, it is important to shift the analysis of food security away from that of the stabilization of food availability and of food prices to that of security of food entitlements for all segments of the population. This focus shows that a complex package of policies needs to be used for this purpose including: yield stabilization; optimum allocation of resources between domestic food and export crops; price stabilization through variable tariffs, currency reserves, and storage; and food subsidies for critical groups.
There is no question that international food aid to refugees and the starving is necessary. But long-term food aid is more questionable. It has often been denounced as a means for (1) reducing the pressure to implement the reforms necessary to improve food production; (2) lowering prices for domestic food producers; (3) creating price uncertainty, since food aid is erratic; and (4) encouraging consumption habits (e.g., wheat in the tropics) or types of agroindustries (e.g., wheat mills in Peru) that domestic production can no longer supply.
A more careful analysis of the impact of food aid in Latin America reveals, however, that the same instrument-cheap concessional food imports-can be used with markedly different results according to whether it is an explicit component of a strategy of food security or a substitute for the definition of such a strategy. In Colombia, for example, PL-480 wheat imports have depressed domestic prices, eliminated wheat production from commercial farms, and increased wheat dependency from 30 per cent of total consumption in the early 1950s to 90 per cent in the late 1970s. In Brazil, by contrast the State sells concessional wheat imports at a price higher than what it pays and uses the revenue created by this transaction to offer domestic producers a price above that paid by the mills. In contrast to Colombia, instead of competing with domestic production, food aid provides a source of public revenues to finance the transition toward greater food self-sufficiency.
In analyzing the impact of food aid on agriculture, it is also important to distinguish between short-run and long-run effects. In the Egyptian CGE, when food subsidies are financed by foreign aid, increasing food subsidies is strongly expansionary on GNP as it creates a new inflow of foreign exchange. In the short run, falling food prices hurt all net-selling farmers and increase the real incomes of the urban classes. In the long run, however, the strongly expansionary effect of increased foreign aid results in positive real income gains for all classes, both urban and rural. This, in turn, creates increased demand for food which both benefits domestic agriculture and increases demand for commercial imports.
It has often been said that the foodsurplus, developed countries prefer to give food aid to reduce their surpluses rather than to provide developmental assistance to Third World agriculture, which would eventually lead to reduced opportunities for commercial exports. This is a fallacious interpretation of the potential of aid in stimulating food exports from developed countries. Successful agricultural development in the Third World creates strong income effects that result in increased cereal imports of foodgrains in the poorer less-developed countries and feedgrains in the middle-income developing countries (MDCs). Rapid growth in the Third World stimulated by aid, in particular led by rural development on a broad "unimodal" basis, will be, for decades to come, the best guarantee of expanding export markets for food- and feedgrains produced in the more developed countries.
I am optimistic about the possibility of harmony between rapid rural development in the LDCs, to reduce malnutrition, and increased export demand for the MDCs, to reduce food surpluses and the associated farm income or public budget crises. Foreign aid to accelerated rural development can thus be to the advantage of both LDCs and MDCs.
Probably the most important conclusion derived from this analysis of an agriculture increasingly integrated in the national and world economy is the predominant importance of macroeconomic and intersectoral forces on the production performance of agriculture and on the distribution of welfare gains that it creates. The trade-offs implied between growth of different sectors, security of food entitlements for different social groups, and shortrun versus long-run effects are far from obvious and were partially captured in the results we presented from multisector, multiclass economic models for India and Egypt. In this new context, Third World countries must, consequently, design their agricultural policies and their strategies of security of food entitlements with a clear understanding and an explicit quantification of these trade-offs.
by Philippe Fargues
As we approach the end of the twentieth century, the ageing of the active populations of the world has become a global phenomenon that during the next 15 years will be considerably stronger in the developing countries than in the industrialized ones. This ageing process has already begun in the developing world, with the exception of Africa and the Islamic regions, reflecting the fact that when birthrates decline, a population gets older. It has fewer young people and more old ones.
Moreover' when the factor of migration is considered, it seems clear that rural populations will grow old more quickly than urban ones. The ageing of producers in the low capital-intensive agricultural sectors of many developing countries could imply a lowering of the productivity of labour. Probably, this is one of the heaviest pressures that the rural exodus exercises on the food stability of these countries.
Even migrations between rural areas can exert similar pressures. The Ivory Coast, a country with a prosperous agriculture, was obliged to increase its cereal imports by 250 per cent between 1974 and 1982, rising to second place among cereal importers in Black Africa. A contributing factor was the movement of young grfrom the north of the country, devoted largely to subsistence agriculture, toward the south, to become planters of export crops such as coffee or cocoa. Such migrations accelerate the ageing process among the remaining population of the abandoned region, without any balancing contribution to domestic food production.
Grow old or die. If we assume that developing countries cannot indefinitely maintain an annual population growth rate of two per cent, which would mean a doubled population every 35 years, then it must be recognized that ageing is inevitable. Since population growth reflects the difference between birth rates and death rates, a declining growth rate will result only from higher mortality or by lowered birth rates and the ageing of the population. And since ageing is usually equated with decay, the demographic evidence of the process that first confronted Europe must have inspired pro-natalistic reactions among governments there. The real choice is to grow old or die and, barring high mortality as a way to achieve population balance, the Third World must get ready for the ageing process.
Rapid increases in the numbers of elderly within populations can be regarded in two ways. First, the proportion of the population of 65 years or more indicates the state of ageing at a given moment. As can be seen from the first column in Table 1, the proportion of elderly population in the developing countries in 1985 was four per cent; it was 11.1 per cent in that category in the industrialized countries. This is due not so much to a lesser decline in the death rate in the developing countries as it is to the maintenance of a higher birth rate. One of the paradoxes of the ageing process is that it does not result from the prolonging of individual lives but rather from the decline of its young people. For instance, if the fertility rate in Nigeria is maintained at the present level of 6.4 infants per woman, the proportion of elderly in the population will remain at a constant 2.4 per cent even though there is a gain of 20 years in life expectancy at birth between 1950 and 2010. Europe, on the other hand, while gaining only 10 years in life expectancy over the same period, will see the proportion of its aged population rise from 8.7 to 15.4 per cent of the total because fertility will continue to decline from 2.6 to 1.9 children per woman.
These proportions indicate roughly the burden that old people place on an active population. It is not too great yet in the developing world where, excepting five countries (Argentina, Chile, Cuba, Uruguay, and Hong Kong) with fertility rates in the range of 2.0 to 3.2 children per woman, those over 65 make up less than five per cent of the population.
To calculate the future proportions of elderly, however, requires projections of total population, which are dependent in turn upon hypothetical birth rates - a very large step into the unknown. A better indicator offering a more dynamic picture of the longterm perspective is the growth rate of aged populations. In 1985, the elderly of the year 2050 have already been born. Their numbers and their growth can be projected simply by forecasting mortality.
From this point of view, developing and industrialized countries have had comparable growth in the course of the last 35 years, both more than doubling their percentage of old people (see Table 1, column 3). This index is of great interest for planning since it indicates the investments needed to provide for the requirements of old people. The evolution expected in the course of the next 40 years (see column 4) shows that the increase in the aged population will be twice as large in developing countries as in industrialized countries.
In 1985, more than half the world's old people (147 million out of 277 million) live in developing countries. In 2025, they will number 773 million, of which 531 will be in developing countries. They will have accounted for more than three-quarters of the aged population growth in the world.
And here lies a second paradox: the high proportion of "old" in the industrialized countries and the declining part that these countries take in the growth of the aged population of the world are two sides of the same coin. A low percentage of old people results from a strong population growth. This affects all age groups, including the oldest. The younger a country is, the more it will eventually need to invest to respond to the growth of its aged population.
Between 1975 and 1985, the aged population of the Third World grew at the annual mean rate of 3.02 per cent, about four times as quickly as that of European countries, which grew at 0.76 per cent. In Africa, 21 countries are growing faster than 3 per cent a year. Among these are the three largest countries of sub-Saharan African Nigeria, Zaire, and Ethiopia. In Latin America, 12 countries, including Brazil and Mexico, have a rate higher than 3 per cent, and Asia has 18 such countries, including the giants China and India.
Diversity of structures by age. If we combine the present burden of old people (the proportion of over-65s in 1980) and the progression of this burden (annual rate of over-65 growth between 1975 and 1985) we can distinguish four groups of countries.
I. Ageing already under way (more than 4.5 per cent over 65) and aged population growth moderate (less than 2.5 per cent per year). This group includes temperate South America (Argentina, Chile, Uruguay) and the Caribbean
Although they are far from the same state of ageing, these countries are nearest to the old" countries of Europe and North America. Argentina occupies a relatively unfavourable position since it must support already heavy burdens (8.2 per cent of old people) and foresee a rapid elevation of its investments (2.5 per cent growth per year).
II. Ageing already under way, aged population growth rapid (more than 2.5 per cent per year). China is virtually alone in this category.
The profound and rapid ageing that China must expect results directly from the extraordinary drop in fertility begun in 1970 thanks to a rigorous anti-birth policy. To the plunge in its fertility, from 5.8 children per woman in 1970 to 2.2 in 1980, corresponds the hollowing of the base of its age pyramid. In 1985, the last of the "numerous" generations are more than ten years old. In 2040, the survivors of the 1985 over-10s will have passed their 65th birthday. That is when China will have attained its maximum ageing. It will subsequently begin to rejuvenate progressively as the generations born of the present single-child policy grow old.
After 2025 China and Europe will have similar situations, which is remarkable considering how different they were 75 years earlier. That gives an idea of the extent of the effort that China will have to make to support its accelerated ageing. Hong Kong and Singapore face a similar situation. In Singapore it results from fertility as low as China's but which dropped less abruptly. In Hong Kong, where fertility has been low for much longer, it is the ageing of the immigrants of the years 1940-50 that temporarily increases the age of the total 1980 population.
III. Very young countries, aged population growth rapid This includes most developing countries.
Five have an over-65 growth rate greater than 4.5 per cent: Venezuela, Libya, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait. These oil-producing countries all attract immigration. Maintaining a very high over-65 population growth rate presupposes the fixing in place of the old immigrants, but nothing is more uncertain.
IV. Very young countries, of aged population growth moderate. North Africa and western Asia (the Arab countries and Turkey) are enjoying a reprieve from ageing.
Although they may still be uniformly young, the developing countries are engaged in well-differentiated short-and long-term evolution. Figure 2 compares the over-65 growth rate with that of the total population.
The countries where the over-65 rate is higher than the total population rate have an age structure that is getting older. In sector I of figure 2, the growth rate of the aged is 1.5 times greater than that of the total population. China, Hong Kong and the Republic of Korea are in that group. In sector II, which contains the majority of developing countries, the ratio of the two rates is 1 to 1.5.
Some countries continue to get younger, meaning that the over-65s in crease less rapidly than the total population. Sector III, contains North Africa, western Asia, and southern Africa. Their fertility has not yet weakened (except in Turkey), while infant mortality has fallen.
New problems. Ageing has involved much transformation of the economies of industrial countries and will present underdeveloped economies with new problems. Rural populations are beginning to feel two of them: the old people are becoming a burden, and the producers are ageing.
The growth of the proportion of aged persons is accompanied by a decrease in that of young people, with the result that the divisions of the total population between active and dependent does not change much under the sole effect of population ageing. The tendency would be even, rather, for the dependency relationships (Table 1, columns 7 and 8) to decrease.
Within the dependent population, it is necessary to await a rapid development of the distribution between old and young, in favour of the old (columns 9 and 10), and within that in favour of the very old (75-plus) and women. Now, the transition of a dependent population, nine-tenths of which was under age 15 in 1985, to another, where the over-65s will account for more than one-fourth in 2025, is not the same as a simple transfer from the expenses of the young to the old. The consumption of a young person and that of an old person are of neither the same kind nor the same amount. But there is something even more worrisome. While the state tends to assume a growing part of the cost of young people (notably extension of public education and infant care centres), rare are the developing countries where the care of the aged by the society has a large base. Retirement systems are limited to a minority of the population. A given growth of the aged population presupposes an investment as elevated as the starting structures are weak.
A large offspring is a form of old-age insurance. The lowering of fertility and consequent ageing of the family limit the ability of a family to take care of its elderly. Traditional family solidarities would decrease with the number of descendants, but' ironically, they would be needed more than ever.
The insecurity of old people could take a particular turn in rural Africa. Fertility there has held but the exodus to the cities has had the same effect as the drop in fertility elsewhere. The traditional extended family assures a collective management of dependents, children, and old people. Under the effect of galloping urbanization, this family is beginning to disintegrate. Generally, when they are not actually born in the city, young children follow their parents in the rural exodus. The costs of bringing them up are then supported by the restricted family, nuclear or not. It is not the same for the old people, in any case if they live in the villages. This is the rule in Black Africa. Old people represent a proportion of the total population nearly two and a half times higher in the country than in the city (in other developing countries and in the most urbanized countries of Latin America the country-city ratio is about even). Though now less urban than the rest of the Third World, Africa is engaged in even more sustained urbanization (6 per cent per annum, as against 4 per cent). For the most part founded since independence, the African cities still have only a small percentage of old people (1.4 per cent), whose maintenance the traditional gerontocracies would guarantee. The latter could well not survive the geographical dispersion of the generations. The cost of children becomes onerous in the cities, where the market takes the place of village subsistence. The competition between the generations may well precipitate the disintegration of traditional "old-age insurance".
Relief by the aged. If the lowering of fertility causes ageing worldwide, emigration causes it at the local level. Removing the young, active population, it leaves the old people behind in the regions the young abandoned. When the movement is on a large scale, the ageing that ensues can be more brutal than that which follows from changes in the birth rate.
For example, as a result of heavy migration toward the south of the country, the northern Ivory Coast lost 11 per cent of its farmers' strength between 1975 and 1980. In the males aged 20-24 group, the loss reached 36 per cent (see figure 3). The proportion of the over-45 population among farmers rose from 27 to 33 per cent. In the same period, the total rural population of the region continued to grow despite emigration (up 0.7 per cent). The same observation could be made of many other centres of rural exodus.
Sometimes international migrations are responsible for rural
ageing. In the Yemen Arab Republic, a quarter of the active male population has
emigrated to Saudi Arabia. Between 1970 and 1975, its male population between 15
and 40 years of age fell by 13 per
cent, but that between ages 40 and 65 increased by 11 per cent.
In agricultures with a strict division of labour according to sex and age, ageing and feminization caused by emigration have swift repercussions on production. With a few exception, the rural exodus in developing countries does not result from a double movement, demand for manpower in industry and replacement of man by machine in agriculture, as was the case in the industrialized countries. An old farmer armed with a horse-drawn plough could doubtless replace many young people equipped solely with swing-ploughs. However, these are the poor rural areas from which people emigrate. In the absence of capital, the young grare not often replaced by technical progress.
The ageing of agricultural populations contributes to increasing food dependence only because it occurs in the double context of an agriculture where the abundance of labour is a condition of survival, and of a predatory urbanization without positive effects on agriculture. If the time to begin getting ready is now, because the problem is imminent, we cannot say with certainty in advance that ageing will aggravate underdevelopment, since it will occur along with a decline in population growth and will relax the pressure of costly growth.
An interview with Peggy Antrobus
WAND (Women and Development Unit) is a regional organization created in Barbados in 1978 as a part of the Action Plan of the United Nations Decade for Women. Based at the University of the West Indies, WAND's objective is to support the implementation of the regional plan of action for integrating Caribbean women in development. To this end, WAND furnishes technical assistance in several fields: the preparation of feasibility studies, planning, analyzing, and evaluating projects, the establishment of women 's bureaus or similar organisations in member countries of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), training of development workers, and so forth. WAND works in collaboration with the Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLA), with a number of specialized agencies of the United Nations system, with national, regional, and interregional non-governmental organizations, as well as with financial institutions Peggy Antrobus of the University of the West Indies' Extramural Department is coordinator of WAND. She was interviewed for Ceres by Armelle Braun during the World Conference for Evaluating the Results of the United Nations Decade for Women held last July in Nairobi -The Editors.
Ceres: What is your personal assessment of the efforts made over the last ten years to integrate women in development?
Antrobus: I think we all started assuming that development is a benign process and that we were simply trying to get women into that process. But we discovered that they were already involved, as a matter of fact, in development. The reason why people did not recognize this was, first of all, because women's labour was largely thought unimportant, and this particularly in the agricultural sector. Even when they were remunerated, it was at a lower level than men. Thus we all had the notion that somehow whatever women were doing needed to be improved. Here was also the assumption that what women did was related to the social sector and not to the economic one. Again, if you focus on rural development, it is the sector in which you can really see why talking about integrating them in development is meaningless. You have to remember that women are not merely housewives; they are farmers in their own right. Those two roles-women's reproductive role and women's productive role-are linked, but conventional approaches to rural development and agriculture do not take that link into account. Typically, in rural development and in agricultural extension programmes, there is a split between home economics, which recognizes women's reproductive role, and agricultural extension, which recognizes the productive role of farmers. In the Caribbean, we are now aware that many women who work at agricultural tasks, sometimes for as many as six hours a day, will describe themselves as housewives. The state looks at women as housewives. So do the ministries of agriculture that design their programmes on that assumption. We surveyed one country in the Caribbean, and although the respondents said that one-third of the women were involved in agriculture, when we checked it with the women themselves and asked them to describe what they actually did, we found that over 80 per cent of the tasks were performed by women. What I am saying is that in 1975 we did not recognize the complexity of the issue; we talked about integrating women in development as if they were not there.
In the course of the last ten years, research and programming have shown clearly that the point is not integration, but rather that there is a need to recognize that women are indeed in development, but in a severely disadvantaged position. So, in 1985, we recognize that we have to challenge the whole concept of development. We have to recognize that development is not merely a set of economic processes. What is interesting to note is that the rhetoric has always been there. I mean, the United Nations, for years now, since the Second Development Decade, has been talking about "integrated development", "holistic development" and claiming that development has to include the social and the political as well as the economic. And yet, when you look at the policies and at the allocation of resources, it is clear that they are still stuck with the economic model. The crisis that is facing the world today shows very clearly the limitations of that growth-oriented model, and it shows also the way the economic processes are linked with the political and the social.
Now they are talking about agriculture and rural development, the food crisis in Africa, but many of us who have been involved with African women particularly, are finding that one of the reasons for the crisis in food security is the failure of planners to recognize the critical role of women as food producers. We do insist on the fact that you have to take into account the social elements and be concerned about the technologies women use. When you are developing training programmes aimed at women you have to take into account their time, their responsibilities for other tasks within the household, that it may not be possible for them to travel long distances or for a long time, that they do not have access to land, to credit, to technology, etc., etc. So, in some ways, the crisis is the result of a failure to look specifically at women's role, at the implication of that role for food production.
Q: What do you think about appropriate technology for women? Is there not a great lack of it?
A: Well, there is a lack of technology in two areas. I would like first to look at technologies women need to perform their domestic work. You also have to consider the technology they use to perform their productive role, the kind of implements they have to use, and technologies also in terms of communication, because communication is also a tool.
Q: It seems that some groups of women have been very successful communicators and have performed rather well in networking.
A: Indeed. You see what is very exciting and very significant is that in the last year a group of Third World women-including researchers, activists, and policy makers from every region-has been meeting on the initiative of an Indian woman, Devaki Jain. We have been meeting to do three things. First, to analyze our experience of the decade. We have analyzed development strategies and criticized them from a woman's point of view. Second, we analyzed the food security crisis, the debt crisis, the environmental crisis, the military-nuclear crisis, and the way in which they interlock. The third part of our project is to propose alternatives.
We call this the DAWN project", DAWN meaning Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era. It is focussing essentially on poor women's experience of development, the impact of the crisis on poor women, and how, by focusing on them, we may find a way out of this crisis, specifically by giving out more resources to these women.
Q: What kind of strategies do you have in mind in order to get more resources allocated to the women who need them?
A: Instead of giving priorities to export-oriented agriculture, more priority should be given to food production for local use and which is cultivated by women so you have to give them more resources. Second, we are calling for more attention to be paid to women in decision making in this sector.
Q: That may not be easy to do.
A: We have had some experience with this in the Caribbean. We developed a pilot project in a small country, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, where we tried to do two things: first, to test the methodology, the strategy for involving women in decision-making; and, second, we wanted to show what happens when women are empowered in that way. We implemented this "how to" project by using participatory methods instead of a more formal approach. That means paying more attention to what they have to say, helping them, and giving them the skills and the confidence to state their own priorities, to plan their own programmes in order to meet their needs and have access to resources, both within their own community and within their country and internationally. Finally, it means helping women to be aware of the causes of their situation and of why they are poor, to look at their own experience within the broader framework of the socioeconomic process.
Q: How can the link be established between strategies at the community level and broader strategies?
A: It's very tempting to negate or to minimize the micro projects, and indeed lots of these do not have an impact on the macro level. What is happening at the macro level is going to affect what's happening at the micro. For example, if you look at the assessment of the Decade, you see that there is a big difference between the global statistics and the micro level. If you look at global figures, you see that women are worse off in every sphere in 1985 than they were in 1975. At the micro level' certainly at the level of your own experience, you see tremendous achievements. So how do you have an impact? We claim that for women the way to do it is, first of all, to help them get a sense of their own effectiveness, of their own power, of their own influence at the micro level. That is why any micro level project, whether it is a small income generating project, a project for digging wells, a self-help project, a project for building houses or for health or a literacy project, any microlevel project can help to make a difference at the macro level to the extent to which it helps building the consciousness about the macro processes that affect women. We are also talking in terms of how women can link with each other to organize. As they do so, they begin to move to the national level; they begin to have an impact on policies at the national level because our governments have to respond. Even the most repressive regimes have to take notice of a mass movement. The DAWN project is exciting because it represents linking of women of different regions. Behind those regional groupings you have national linkages which is what we have in the Caribbean. I am the representative of DAWN in the Caribbean region, but I represent a rural movement within the region and behind that there is a rural movement at national level and behind that, again, a rural movement at the community level. The point is that without that empowerment of poor women at the grassroots level, the people who, like myself, are operating at international and regional levels have no force behind them. They have no credibility. They are speaking only about their own experience, and if they are not in touch with the grass roots movements, they don't really have much power or influence. So if I you ask me to sum up the major I achievement of the Decade, I would say: the emergence of a better consciousness of, and a greater commitment to, an extended network.
Q: Do you plan to link as well with women in the industrialized countries?
A: Yes, the DAWN project does link with women in the North and the South. But women in the North have to understand and come to terms with their own experience of powerlessness, alienation, and inequality. The feminists in the North have the ingredients for assisting in promoting development in Third World countries. Women of the First World who are conscious of their own alienation will understand that there are pockets of underdevelopment in their own countries. So right away they break away from that attitude of superiority they have, which says, in effect, because we live in developed countries, we are all right. We have all those resources. It's just you poor Third World women who are illiterate and ignorant and stupid and don't know what you are doing. We are all right; you are the ones we have to help. Now that kind of attitude is not acceptable to Third World women. That kind of superiority, that kind of arrogance has no place in a programme for assisting Third World women. If women of the North begin to see that, then they have a role to play, not only in changing their own situation, but also in generating resources for what is needed in their own country.