Immigrant workforce and labour productivity in Italian agriculture: a farm-level analysis

Edoardo Baldoni, Silvia Coderoni, Roberto Esposti


The objective of this paper is to detect stylized facts and put forward testable hypotheses on the presence and role of immigrant workforce in Italian agriculture. This research focuses on professional agriculture as represented by the Italian FADN over the period 2008-2015. Descriptive statistics show that immigrants are an important component of the workforce employed in professional agriculture over this period, even with wide disparities between regions, sectors and classes of economic size. Immigrants are concentrated in larger and more productive farms and their presence is positively correlated with farm’s labour productivity (LP). To understand whether they are more productive, or they are just occupied by more productive farms, the relationship between LP and their contribution to agricultural production, in terms of Annual Working Units (AWU), is modelled at the farm level, by assuming alternative model specifications. Results emphasize that, in many cases, statistically significant relationships between the contribution of immigrants and farm-level LP can result from model misspecifications. Accounting for farms’ heterogeneity can greatly influence the dimension of this link. Moreover, when assuming persistence of LP with a dynamic specification, this relationship disappears.


immigrant workforce; FADN sample; labour productivity; dynamic panel models

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