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Learning by Doing: Skills and Jobs in Urban Ghana

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  • Monazza Aslam
  • Kim Lehrer

Abstract

This paper investigates the relationship between skills acquisition and job characteristics using a panel dataset of individuals in urban Ghana by analyzing on-the-job skills acquisition and exploring the link between mathematics skills and jobs which involve the handling of money. These mathematics skills are important, not only, in the workplace but also more generally. Survey respondents were administered a short mathematics test involving a number of theoretical and practical math questions. The relationship between skills and jobs is identified by examining individuals who changed jobs between survey rounds while controlling for individual time invariant characteristics. We argue that the process of job choice in Ghana allows us to identify causal impacts. The findings show that money handling is positively associated with higher math skills for women. These results are not driven by differences in mathematics scores between self-employed individuals and wage employed individuals and are robust to changes in the classification of money handling jobs. Moreover, the findings show that working in a job involving the handling of money is positively associated with higher math scores among women with high levels of education. This suggests that individuals at the low end of the distribution of years of education are not acquiring mathematics skills through money handling jobs. It is only the 36% of women who are already quite highly educated in the Ghanaian context who are acquiring these skills on the job.

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File URL: http://www.csae.ox.ac.uk/workingpapers/pdfs/csae-wps-2012-15.pdf
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Paper provided by Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford in its series CSAE Working Paper Series with number 2012-15.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:csa:wpaper:2012-15

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  1. Francis Teal & Geeta Kingdon & Justin Sandefur, 2005. "Labor Market Flexibility, Wages and Incomes in sub-Saharan Africa in the 1990s," Economics Series Working Papers GPRG-WPS-030, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  2. Yona Rubinstein & James J. Heckman, 2001. "The Importance of Noncognitive Skills: Lessons from the GED Testing Program," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 145-149, May.
  3. John H. Tyler, 2002. "Basic Skills and the Earnings of Dropouts," Working Papers 2002-09, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  4. Murnane, Richard J & Willett, John B & Levy, Frank, 1995. "The Growing Importance of Cognitive Skills in Wage Determination," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 77(2), pages 251-66, May.
  5. Jolliffe, Dean, 1998. "Skills, Schooling, and Household Income in Ghana," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 12(1), pages 81-104, January.
  6. James J. Heckman & Jora Stixrud & Sergio Urzua, 2006. "The Effects of Cognitive and Noncognitive Abilities on Labor Market Outcomes and Social Behavior," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 411-482, July.
  7. Francisco L. Rivera-Batiz, 1992. "Quantitative Literacy and the Likelihood of Employment among Young Adults in the United States," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 27(2), pages 313-328.
  8. Monazza Aslam & Faisal Bari & Geeta Kingdon, 2012. "Returns to schooling, ability and cognitive skills in Pakistan," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 20(2), pages 139-173, May.
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