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Soft Skills for Hard Constraints: Evidence from High-achieving Female Farmers

Most women farmers in developing countries engage in subsistence agriculture. Previous research highlights a variety of barriers hindering women’s ability to participate in the production and marketing of cash crops, which though riskier can be much more profitable. A study by the World Bank’s Africa Gender Innovation Lab, the Living Standards Measurement Study and Methods Team, and the National University of Singapore Business School, provides evidence that noncognitive entrepreneurial skills, such as the will to persevere, optimism, and passion for work play a decisive role – even more so in communities where women face greater constraints to their economic empowerment. Overall, the authors findings complement the growing literature in psychology and economics documenting the importance of noncognitive skills in determining important economic outcomes.