Livelihoods and agrarian change processes across upland South-East Asia have been explored for decades. Yet, knowledge gaps remain about contemporary livelihood strategies and land dependence in areas previously inaccessible to academic research, such as in upland Myanmar. Moreover, new strands of inquiry arise with continued globalisation, e.g., into the effects of remittances and labour migration on household incomes and livelihoods in distant upland areas. This study applied clustering techniques to income accounts of 94 households from northern Chin State, Myanmar to: (i) Identify households’ livelihood strategies; (ii) assess their dependence on access to land and natural resources; and (iii) compare absolute and relative incomes across strategies. We show that households engaged in six relatively distinct livelihood strategies: Relying primarily on own farming activities; making a living off the land with mixed income from agriculture and forest resources; engaging in wage employment; living from remittances; practicing non-forest tree husbandry; or engaging in self-employed business activities. We found significant income inequalities across clusters, with households engaging in remittance and wage-oriented livelihood strategies realizing higher incomes than those primarily involved in land-based activities. Our findings point to differentiated vulnerabilities associated with the identified livelihood strategies—to climate risks, shifting land-governance regimes and labour market forces.
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