Calabrese - Economy

The crops grown in the region are typical of Mediterranean extensive-farming communities. The principal crop is wheat, olives and grapes are also important, and citrus and cotton are grown as well. There is little industrialization. Traditional Calabrian farming was, and in many places still is, done on the basis of leasehold access to a portion of an absentee landlord's property. Leases are commonly issued on a multiyear basis, and the tenant is responsible for managing the operation, hiring the necessary labor, and providing his own seed and tools. Multiyear leases are contracted on the basis of the landlord receiving a portion of the proceeds of the harvest, usually wholly in cash and often representing as much as three-fourths of the total product. One-year leases are also common, though less favored by tenants. Women's participation in agricultural labor is and traditionally has been Marginal. Merchants and artisans reside in the towns, and the overwhelming influence of the estates upon the orientation and conduct of town life has diminished somewhat. Very few employment alternatives are available locally, other than in farming. For this reason, and because smallhold farming is unsuitable in all but a few parts of the region, there has long been a high rate of out-migration of youth and men to the industrial north, other European countries, and the United States. These workers usually send back a portion of their wages to support the families they have left behind. Because of this, there has been a process of "feminization" of local town populations, and often a change in local conceptions of "men's work"—often the men simply are not there to do it, so women must take over. Thus, although there is a long tradition of women's avoidance of the "public" sphere, such avoidance is today followed less assiduously.

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