AgriFood WP 2017:3

Farmers’ earnings and disposable incomes for Sweden in 1997-2012

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.