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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Monazza Aslam & Kim Lehrer, 2012. "Learning by Doing: Skills and Jobs in Urban Ghana," CSAE Working Paper Series 2012-15, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  • Handle: RePEc:csa:wpaper:2012-15
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    File URL: http://www.csae.ox.ac.uk/materials/papers/csae-wps-2012-15.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. Tyler, John H., 2004. "Basic skills and the earnings of dropouts," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 221-235, June.
    3. 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.
    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 251-266, May.
    5. Geeta Kingdon & Justin Sandefur & Francis Teal, 2006. "Labour Market Flexibility, Wages and Incomes in Sub‐Saharan Africa in the 1990s," African Development Review, African Development Bank, vol. 18(3), pages 392-427.
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