This study is probably the most comprehensive analysis of farmer incomes for a EU
member state. We use longitudinal register data to evaluate the dynamics of earnings of
Swedish farm households for 1997 to 2012. Individual data allow division of household
earnings into farm- and non-farm earnings and, using the Multigenerational register,
we allocate household earnings between family members.
Our results indicate that,
from a standard of living perspective, farm households do well, but from a return to
skills perspective, farming is still a low paid occupation. Nevertheless, farm earnings
increase faster than earnings in the general population. A significant increase in farm
household earnings over the period is equally caused by operators’ farm earnings and
higher off-farm earnings for the spouse. Since the farmer and the spouse often have their
own distinct careers we conclude that it is problematic to evaluate farmers’ income from
mainly a household perspective.