Date of this Version
An important change in the dynamics of family farming is the financial difficulties they have encountered and the resulting solution of sending a family member to earn a wage in off-farm employment. This study utilizes survey data from Washington family farm women to explore how they navigate their unique social context concerning the decision and reasons they choose to work off-farm. In particular, I examine whether women who grew upon a farm or have spent a large percentage of their lives on farms are more or less likely to work off-farm. An identity theory approach is utilized to hypothesize that the influence of farming/agrarian ideology in those with a farming background will lead to differential levels of employment and differing reasons in the decisions to either seek off-farm employment or remain on-farm. This study found that while being raised on-farm was not found to be associated with off-farm employment, increased percentage of life spent on-farm was associated with being less likely to have ever worked off-farm. This study also found that, of those who have worked off-farm, those raised on-farm and with increased percentage of life spent on-farm were less likely to indicate that they work off-farm to gain personal income. In addition, those raised on-farm were less likely to work off-farm in order to gain independence or for the challenge. This study also found that, of those who have not worked off-farm, being raised on-farm had no significant association with listing being needed on-farm or at home as reasons for not working off-farm. However, increase in percentage of a woman’s life spent on-farm was associated with indicating being both needed on the farm/ranch and needed at home as reasons for not working off-farm.
Adviser: Jolene Smyth