The role of family life cycle events on persistent and transient inefficiencies in Less Favoured Areas

AP Barnes*

*Corresponding author for this work

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3 Citations (Scopus)
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Family farms dominate less favoured areas (LFAs) within Europe, and family life-cycle conditions, such as succession and retirement, affects how these farms adapt to changing circumstances. Past studies of on-farm technical efficiency have not directly addressed these conditions, but they may explain why some farms are more efficient than others, especially as the farm family model dominates most farming systems. Motivated by the UK's withdrawal from the EU and the debate around establishing replacement support policies, we apply a multi-step model to measure both transient and persistent inefficiencies using a panel of LFA cattle and sheep farms in Scotland over the period 2003–2020. We find a greater prevalence of persistent compared to transient inefficiency, which suggests that structural problems still exist. Farms with planned succession are found to have higher persistent efficiencies, whereas farmers nearing retirement have lower levels. Other factors, such as dependence on subsidy, off-farm activity and classification as severely disadvantaged tend to compound these lower efficiencies. We argue that life-cycle conditions should not be ignored in studies of farm technical efficiency. Within the scope of framing a new agricultural policy for UK administrations, these results inform the debate on support for LFAs, as well as the promotion of support towards generational renewal to ease transition across farm family life-cycle events.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-315
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Agricultural Economics
Issue number1
Early online date9 Sept 2022
Publication statusPrint publication - Feb 2023


  • Less Favoured Area Cattle and Sheep farms,
  • Persistent Efficiency
  • Transient Efficiency
  • Scotland
  • life-cycle conditions and events.
  • less favoured area cattle and sheep farms
  • persistent and transient efficiency

Rural Policy Centre Themes

  • Land use and land reform


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