Are positive farmers more productive? Investigating the relationship between positivity ratio and agricultural productivity

Shira Bukchin-Peles*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Lagging agricultural productivity performance in developing countries is a significant barrier to economic development and achieving food security. Rather than focusing on commonly researched socioeconomic and physical factors hindering productivity enhancement, we follow a new perspective, investigating intangible and non-material dimensions of agriculture that are generally missing from the literature. We suggest a relation between farmers’ positivity level (ratio of positive to negative emotions) and agricultural productivity. This hypothesis's theoretical roots lie in the broaden-and-build theory, which argues that the positivity level is at the core of psychological flourishing and significantly impacts social and intellectual abilities. Several existing models link positive emotions to productivity in other sectors, mainly in the developed world. Through a comprehensive literature review, we first set the theoretical framework for suggesting that this relationship is also relevant for small-scale agriculture development. We then put this hypothesis to an empirical test in a field study in Nepal. We used a face-to-face questionnaire to collect data from 262 smallholders in the Jhapa district. Productivity measures included annual income from agriculture per area, total annual income from agriculture, vegetable harvest per area, and subjective perception of relative farming level- ranked by the farmer. Four regression models of the collected data revealed a link between a high positivity ratio and all four productivity measures. Besides its theoretical and empirical contribution, this study's importance lies in its practical implications and potential to have a social impact.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)470-481
Number of pages12
JournalOutlook on Agriculture
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.


  • agricultural development
  • Nepal
  • positivity ratio
  • productivity
  • Smallholders


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