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Education and earnings in urban West Africa

  • Kuepie, Mathias
  • Nordman, Christophe J.
  • Roubaud, François

Using a series of comparable labor force surveys in urban West Africa, we estimate the private returns to education among representative samples of workers in seven economic capitals (Abidjan, Bamako, Cotonou, Dakar, Lome, Niamey and Ouagadougou). The data allow us to provide a unique cross-country comparison using rigorously the same variables and methodology for each country. We tackle the issues of endogenous sector allocation (public, formal private and informal sectors) and endogeneity of the education variable in the earnings functions. We find that the returns to schooling are most often enhanced once an endogenous education variable is accounted for. This effect holds particularly true in the informal sector. In most West African cities of our sample, the public sector gives more value to education, followed by the formal private sector and then the informal sector. We also shed light on convex returns to education in all the cities and sectors, including in informal activity. More generally, a major contribution of this paper is to provide evidence of significant effects of education on individual earnings in the informal sectors of the West African cities, even at high levels of schooling.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Comparative Economics.

Volume (Year): 37 (2009)
Issue (Month): 3 (September)
Pages: 491-515

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jcecon:v:37:y:2009:i:3:p:491-515
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