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Applied Economics Letters


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A OaxacaBlinder decomposition for count data models


a

T. A. Park & L. Lohr

Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, University of Georgia, Athens, GA,


30602-7509, USA
Available online: 12 May 2008

To cite this article: T. A. Park & L. Lohr (2010): A OaxacaBlinder decomposition for count data models, Applied Economics
Letters, 17:5, 451-455
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13504850801964307

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Applied Economics Letters, 2010, 17, 451455

A OaxacaBlinder decomposition
for count data models
T. A. Park* and L. Lohr

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Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, University of Georgia,


Athens, GA 30602-7509, USA

Little research has examined the factors influencing differential adoption


of organic farming practices by women and men farmers, a sector where
women account for a significant and rapidly growing proportion of
farmers. Female organic farmers adopt more crop disease management
practices than male organic farmers and use a different portfolio of
techniques. Results from a count data model are used to decompose
observed differences in the adoption of management practices into an
endowment effect and a coefficients effect. The analysis indicates that 50%
of the adoption differential is due to differences in characteristics of male
vs. female farmers with percentage of vegetable acreage a key factor
influencing the gap in adoption practices.

I. Introduction
Farms operated by women represent a growing
segment of US farms, accounting for 9% of US
farms in 1997, an increase of 58% from 1978 (Korb,
2005). Female farmers make up an even larger share
of organic farmers at 21% of US organic farms.
Recognizing that more women are choosing to
manage their own farms, federal and state agriculture
departments along with university extension are
targeting women farmers with on-farm management
and technical training through extension, research
and education programmes.
Our methodological innovation is an extension of
the BlinderOaxaca (BO) decomposition to a count
data model (Blinder, 1973; Oaxaca, 1973). The
technique decomposes observed differences in the
use of crop disease and nematode management
strategies across male and female farmers into two
components. The first component, called the characteristic effect, measures how observable characteristics or endowments across the two groups
influence the management techniques. This

component reveals how disparities in the use of


management strategies are driven by a characteristic
(such as education) that differs between male and
female farmers. The second component defined as the
coefficients effect measures the relative strength of a
characteristic (such as education) on male vs. female
decisions to adopt a portfolio of crop disease
management practices. The decomposition, commonly used for continuous outcomes such as wage
differentials, is modified to apply to count data which
records the use of farm management practices. Yun
(2004) proposed a general method to decompose
differences in the first moment for nonlinear models
that we extend to a count data application.

II. The Econometric Model


Organic farmers who described themselves as using a
given crop disease management practice on an
occasional or regular basis during a year were defined
as adopters while farmers who rarely or never used a

*Corresponding author. E-mail: TPark@agecon.uga.edu


Applied Economics Letters ISSN 13504851 print/ISSN 14664291 online 2010 Taylor & Francis
http://www.informaworld.com
DOI: 10.1080/13504850801964307

451

T. A. Park and L. Lohr

452
strategy were classified as nonadopters. A count
data regression model of the crop disease management portfolio estimated separately for male (M) and
female (F) farmers was:
CrpDisManig expg g0 Oig g0 Rig "ig ,

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g M, F

where CrpDisManig measures the number of crop


disease management techniques adopted by farmer i
of gender g with estimated parameters g, g, and  g.
Farm-level and demographic factors that influence
adoption are denoted by the vector Oig, while Rig is a
vector representing regional agronomic and
geographic effects. The BO decomposition evaluates
how differences in the practices used by males
and females (CrpDisManiM  CrpDisManiF) are
explained by characteristics of males and females
and differences in behavioural responses associated
with the explanatory variables. Wooldridge (2002)
demonstrated that the Poisson quasi-maximum likelihood estimator (QMLE) is asymptotically normal
and efficient in the class of all QMLEs in the linear
exponential family of distributions.
Separate Poisson count data models were estimated
for male and female organic farmers, represented by
data Xg with estimated coefficients g. The mean
difference in the number of technologies adopted
between female and male organic farmers was
decomposed as


lnCrpDisManiM
 lnCrpDisManiF


 M M  XF M 
X
 F F 
XF M  X
2

where the functional form for the count data model


was evaluated at mean values of the explanatory
variables.
The first bracketed element on the right hand side
(the characteristics effect) represents the adoption
differential attributable to all the characteristics of
male and female farmers, such as different levels of
experience in farming. The second bracketed element
(the coefficients effect) is the differential impact that
the coefficients of the explanatory variables have on
decisions of male vs. female farmers. For example,
years of experience in farming may exert a stronger
effect on the adoption decisions of female farmers
than male farmers.
A detailed decomposition examines the contribution of each individual variable to the total difference
between male and female farmers crop disease
management portfolios to assess the comparative

impact of each explanatory variable. The decomposition for each of the k variables is
"
#
 X

K
 M M
X
lnCrpDisManiM
j
WX

 F M
 lnCrpDisManiF
 X
j1
"
#
K
X j
 F M
X

W
 F F
 X
j1
3
The weights for the K explanatory variables in the
model WjX and Wj were defined as:
WjX

XjF  XjM Fj


XF  XM F

j
Xj j  M

Wj M F
4
XM F  M

The
weights
were
calculated
using
the
estimated coefficients from the count data model in
Equation 4 evaluated at the mean values of the
explanatory variables. The method requires only that
the dependent variable is specified as a linear
combination of the explanatory variables and that
the function is once differentiable.

III. Data and Variable Descriptions


Comprehensive data on production and marketing
practices of US organic farmers were gathered from
the Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF)
survey along with information sources accessed and
demographic information. A description of the
survey and summary results are available from the
OFRF (www.ofrf.org). Table 1 shows the variable
descriptions and summary statistics for the dependent
and independent variables as well as the question
number from the OFRF survey for each variable.
Natural logs of the variables were used where
appropriate.
The dependent variable was the number of
strategies adopted for managing crop diseases. The
list of seven practices includes the planting of disease
resistant varieties, companion planting, solarization,
compost applications, the use of cooper-based
materials, the application of sulfur-based materials
and crop rotations. Female farmers tend to adopt
more crop disease management practices than male
farmers, and the portfolios of practices also differed
by gender. Among female farmers 77% used three or
more practices while only 58% of male farmers
employed these many practices.
The explanatory variables from Table 1 include
factors that exhibit large differences between male
and female farmers (such as farm acreage) as well as

A OaxacaBlinder decomposition for count data models

453

Table 1. Variable descriptions and summary statistics (N 749 producers)


Variable

Description

CrpDisMan

Number of crop disease management


strategies, sum of practices, from
0 to 7 Share of adoptions by category
0 disease management strategies
12 disease management strategies
34 disease management strategies
57 disease management strategies
Farm is a sole proprietorship, 1 if yes
Share of total organic acreage in
vegetable crops, calculated
Acreage farmed organically, from
0.125 to 6000 acres
Operator is part-time farmer, 1 if yes
Years as an organic farmer, from
0 to 70 years
Number of information sources contacted weighted by contact frequency,
from 0 to 28.
Management problems reported in
farming organically, 1 if yes
Farm is in SARE Region 1, 1 if yes
Farm is in SARE Region 2, 1 if yes
Farm is in SARE Region 3, 1 if yes
Farm is in SARE Region 4, 1 if yes

SoleProp
PctVeg
OrgAcre

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PartTime
YrsOrg
InfoSrc
ManProb
West
NorthCent
South
Northeast
Observations

Females

Males

Question number

3.34 (1.46)

2.84 (1.60)

5.5

0.06
0.17
0.57
0.20
0.72
0.38 (0.42)

0.07
0.35
0.44
0.14
0.72
0.25 (0.38)

8.2
3.1, 3.2 8.6a

82.30 (516.87)

142.84 (296.75)

8.6

0.62
11.26 (9.36)

0.65
10.36 (8.41)

8.3
8.10

14.89 (7.17)

13.08 (7.56)

2.2a

0.33

0.37

2.2a

0.41
0.18
0.08
0.33
138

0.32
0.39
0.07
0.22
611

8.12
8.12
8.12
8.12

Notes: Standard errors in parentheses for nondichotomous variables.


a
The question number in Walz corresponding to each variable.

those for which men and women are roughly equal


(such as years of organic farming experience). A
broader portfolio of management strategies was
usually applied to organic horticultural crops than
field crops. The share of total acreage allocated to
vegetables, including herbs, flowers and ornamentals
(PctVeg), was 25% for male farmers. Female farmers
managed a larger share of vegetable acreage
(38%). The average farm size (OrgAcre) was larger
for males than for females, suggesting that male
farmers enjoyed a scale effect in crop disease
management costs.
A main constraint in achieving technical efficiency
in agricultural production is the lack of information
about the best practice techniques. From a list of 13
information sources in the OFRF survey, respondents indicated the frequency of use of each source.
To incorporate the effort required to obtain information, the variable InfoSrc counts the number of
information sources contacted weighted by the
frequency of contact. The average weighted number
of information contacts (InfoSrc) was similar for
male and female organic farmers.
A measure of the managerial skill of organic
farmers is also part of the model. The OFRF survey
gathered information on organic farmers perceptions

about the severity of insect, plant disease and weed


problems on their farm operations. Farmers who
scored above the mean value across each of the three
categories of production problems were coded as
indicating a high-level of management problems.
Male and female farmers reported roughly the
same percentages on the severe management
constraint at 35%.
Sources of variation in crop disease management
strategies at the regional level could include climate,
weed populations, crop production practices, regulatory environment and support infrastructure. To
assess institutional support and information availability for organic pest management practices, we
grouped the observations by the four USDA
Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education
(SARE) regions. A dichotomous variable was created
for each region, equal to one if the respondents farm
was in that region, and zero otherwise.

IV. Model and Decomposition Results


The findings which are reported in Table 2, show the
results from the BO decomposition corresponding to

T. A. Park and L. Lohr

454
Table 2. Decomposition analysis of crop disease management strategies male vs. females

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Characteristics effect

Coefficients effect

Variable

Estimate

Share

Estimate

Share

Constant
SoleProp
PctVeg
OrgAcre
PartTime
YrsOrg
InfoSrc
ManProb
West
NorthCent
Northeast
SUM

0.0002 (0.366)
0.117* (5.625)
0.004 (0.217)
0.006 (1.445)
0.010 (1.633)
0.057* (3.769)
0.011* (2.054)
0.041* (1.939)
0.138* (2.906)
0.006 (0.268)
0.255

0.00
22.8
0.7
1.2
2.0
11.2
2.2
8.1
27.0
1.2
49.9

0.203* (0.354)
0.049 (0.163)
0.276* (2.138)
0.037 (1.367)
0.008 (0.075)
0.076 (0.442)
0.339 (1.168)
0.129 (1.472)
0.048 (0.296)
0.003 (0.033)
0.027 (0.352)
0.256

39.6
9.6
53.9
7.3
1.6
14.8
61.4
25.2
9.3
0.5
5.3
50.1

Notes: *Share for each explanatory variable calculated by dividing the estimate by the summed values of all characteristics
and coefficients effect. The characteristics effect share for information sources (in absolute values) is calculated as
0.057/(0.255 0.256) 11.2%.
Indicates asymptotic t-values with significance at  0.10 level.

the individual characteristics effect and coefficients


effect from Equations 6 and 7. Coefficient
estimates and asymptotic SEs for the count
data model of crop disease management strategies
are available from the authors on request. If a
characteristic share is positive (negative), then the
difference in mean values for the variable between
male and female farmers favours more practices being
adopted by males (females).
The analysis indicated that about 50% of the
observed disparity in adoption of crop disease
management techniques was due to differences in
the characteristics of male and female farmers. This is
shown by the sum of the characteristics effect at the
bottom of the table. Individual characteristics with
the largest effects were acreage share in vegetables
(22.8%), farm location in a Northeastern state
(27.0%), and use of information sources (11.2%).
The higher percentage of acreage allocated to
vegetable production by female farmers accounted
for more practices being adopted by females.
Womens more intensive use of external information
sources and lower rates of self-reported management
problems contributed to an expanded portfolio of
crop disease management technique compared to
male organic farmers.
The decomposition results illustrate the potentially
misleading implications that can arise from looking at
unconditional differences in mean values across males
and females. Average farm size was about 75% larger
for male organic farmers compared to female farmers. Yet, according to the characteristics effect in
Table 2, the size of the farm operation (OrgAcre) was

not a significant contributing factor to gender gaps in


use of crop disease management techniques.
The coefficient share provides a measure of the
relative effect of significant variables on gender
differences in crop disease management portfolios.
If a coefficient share is positive (negative), then the
behavioural response to the characteristic is
stronger in male (female) farmers. The decomposition
revealed that coefficients effects accounted for about
50% of the gender difference in crop disease
management practices. The difference in percentage
of vegetable acreage (a coefficient share of 53.8%)
was significant in promoting expanded use of
practices for women compared to men farmers. The
coefficient difference in information sources utilized
by the farmers (coefficient share of 66.2%) contributed to an increase in adoption rates of males relative
to females.

V. Implications of the Results


The evidence presented here suggests gender differences related to information sources, education, and
infrastructure play a significant role in explaining
adoption of crop disease management techniques.
The decomposition yields explicit measures of how
characteristics and coefficients effects linked to
gender differences influence adoption of management
practices. Designing effective training and research
programmes depends on knowledge about factors
that affect adoption.

A OaxacaBlinder decomposition for count data models


References

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Family Farm Report (Eds) D. E. Banker and J. M.
MacDonald, Bulletin No. 797, USDA Economic
Research Service, Washington, DC.

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Oaxaca, R. (1973) Male-female wage differentials in urban


labor markets, International Economic Review, 14,
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Wooldridge, J. W. (2002) Econometric Analysis of
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