In this paper we study intersectoral transfer and its impact on the distribution of income in Ecuador. We find that income shares between farm and nonfarm activities are roughly equal, on average, although the rich in rural areas typically receive a greater share of income from nonfarm sources. Thus decomposing inequality by income source reveals that a rise in nonfarm incomes increases inequality. Drawing on a new method to estimate local-level distributional outcomes, growth of the high-productivity nonfarm sector is observed to have a strong and positive association with average consumption and inequality. Growth of the low-productivity nonfarm sector is associated with little change in either average income or income inequality. Irrespective of subsector, growth of the nonfarm sector is associated with a substantial fall in poverty. © 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.