The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd


  • Keijiro Otsuka
Reference work entry


While traditionally peasants are regarded as subsistence-oriented, full-time, and small-scale farmers, many small-farmers are part-time farmers engaged in both cash-and food-crop farming and non-farm jobs. Therefore, peasants may be defined as small-scale, family based farmers, including both owner cultivators and tenants. A major question is whether the peasant mode of production is socially efficient. Because of the absence of scale economies, the advantage of risk sharing under share tenancy contracts, and the inefficiency of agricultural labour contracts due to the difficulty of supervision, small-scale family based farming system, including share tenancy, is a socially efficient system in low-wage economies.


Access to land Cash crops Contract choice Contract enforcement Credit markets Efficient allocation Family labour Fixed-rent tenancy Food security Human capital Insurance markets Land use rights Market failure Marshallian inefficiency of share tenancy Monitoring costs Peasants Reputation Risk sharing Scale economies Sharecropping Tenancy markets 

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Keijiro Otsuka
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