To Fish or Not To Fish: Occupational Choice in Rural Zanzibar

Adolf Mkenda


It has been established that in general, artisan fishermen enjoy a higher economic welfare compared to peasant farmers in rural Zanzibar.  A plausible explanation for this is that artisan fishermen generally earn more from their trade than the peasant farmers.  Since fishery in Zanzibar is a quasi-open access resource to all Zanzibaris, an intriguing question is: why are the peasant farmers not changing their occupation from generally low paying faming to relatively higher paying fishing?  This article attempts to tackle this question by investigating the factors that influence the choice of occupation in rural Zanzibar with particular focus on the choice of fishing against other occupations.  The issue of occupational choice in relation to fishing is of particular police relevance in that any attempt at reducing fishing effort to curb over-fishing in artisan fishery would compel some fishermen to choose alternative occupation.  The ease with which this can be accomplished would depend on the factors that influenced fishermen to choose fishing in the first place.  Understanding factors that influence occupational choice in fishery is therefore an important step in designing a workable policy for curbing over-fishing.  In this article, an attempt is make to explain occupational choice in rural Zanzibar using the 1991 Zanzibar Household Budget Survey data.  To this end a multinomial logit model of occupational choice for rural Zanzibar is estimated.

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