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Education and Labour Market Outcomes in Sub-Saharan West Africa


  • Mathias Kuepie


  • Christophe Nordman

    () (DIAL, IRD, Paris)

  • François Roubaud

    () (DIAL, IRD, Paris)


(english) The purpose of this paper is to study the effects of education on urban labour market participation and earnings in seven major West African cities. Our results show that although education does not always guard against unemployment, it does increase individual earnings in Abidjan, Bamako, Cotonou, Dakar, Lome, Niamey and Ouagadougou and opens the door to get into the most profitable niches, which are found in the formal private and public sectors. We shed light on convex returns to education in all the cities considered. Besides, not controlling for the endogeneity of education leads to biased estimated returns (either upward or downward depending on the city) which stresses the complexity of the mechanisms linking education and earnings across cities and sectors. We also bring some support to the idea according to which social capital may largely be at work in this relationship. Finally, a major contribution of this paper is to provide evidence of significant effects of education on individual earnings in the informal sectors of the major WAEMU cities, even at high levels of schooling. _________________________________ (français) L'objectif de ce papier est d’étudier les effets de l’éducation sur la participation au marché du travail urbain et la rémunération du travail dans sept capitales d’Afrique de l’Ouest francophones. Nous montrons que si l’éducation ne constitue pas toujours un rempart contre le chômage, elle est un facteur incontestable d’accroissement des gains sur les marchés du travail d’Abidjan, Bamako, Cotonou, Dakar, Lomé, Niamey et Ouagadougou. Elle permet notamment aux individus les mieux dotés de s’insérer dans les créneaux les plus rentables à savoir les secteurs formels privé et public. Les rendements marginaux de l’éducation estimés sont convexes dans toutes les villes considérées. Nous montrons également que ne pas prendre en compte l’endogénéité supposée de la variable d’éducation dans les fonctions de gains conduit à surestimer ou à sous-estimer les rendements de l’éducation suivant les cas. Ce résultat rend compte de la complexité du lien entre éducation et revenus en fonction de la ville et du secteur d’affiliation des individus. De plus, nos estimations corroborent l’idée selon laquelle le capital social des travailleurs interférerait de façon significative dans ce mécanisme. Finalement, l’apport de notre étude est aussi de montrer que le capital éducatif, y compris à des niveaux élevés, permet un accroissement substantiel des gains dans le secteur informel de la plupart de ces grandes villes de l’UEMOA.

Suggested Citation

  • Mathias Kuepie & Christophe Nordman & François Roubaud, 2006. "Education and Labour Market Outcomes in Sub-Saharan West Africa," Working Papers DT/2006/16, DIAL (Développement, Institutions et Mondialisation).
  • Handle: RePEc:dia:wpaper:dt200616

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    Cited by:

    1. Christophe J. Nordman & François-Charles Wolff, 2009. "Is There a Glass Ceiling in Morocco? Evidence from Matched Worker--Firm Data," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 18(4), pages 592-633, August.
    2. Jean-Philippe BERROU (GREThA UMR CNRS 5113) & François COMBARNOUS (GREThA UMR CNRS 5113), 2008. "Ties configuration in entrepreneurs’ personal network and economic performances in African urban informal economy," Cahiers du GREThA 2008-25, Groupe de Recherche en Economie Théorique et Appliquée.
    3. Alexandre BERTIN (GREThA) & David LEYLE (ADES), 2007. "Estimating multidimensional poverty in a developing country. The case of the “Observatoire de Guinée Maritime » Project (In French)," Cahiers du GREThA 2007-17, Groupe de Recherche en Economie Théorique et Appliquée.
    4. Dan Dumitru Ionescu & Alina Măriuca Ionescu & Elisabeta Jaba, 2013. "The Investments in Education and Quality of Life," Journal of Knowledge Management, Economics and Information Technology,, vol. 3(6), pages 1-12, December.
    5. Moundir LASSASSI & Nacer-eddine HAMMOUDA, 2012. "Le Fonctionnement Du Marché Du Travail En Algérie : Population Active Et Emplois Occupés," Region et Developpement, Region et Developpement, LEAD, Universite du Sud - Toulon Var, vol. 35, pages 99-120.
    6. Alina Mariuca Ionescu, 2012. "How does education affect labour market outcomes?," Review of Applied Socio-Economic Research, Pro Global Science Association, vol. 4(2), pages 130-144, Decembre.
    7. Lassassi, Moundir & Hammouda, Nacer-Eddine, 2009. "Déterminants de la participation au marché du travail et choix occupationnel: une analyse microéconométrique appliquée au cas de l'Algérie
      [Microeconometric analysis of determinants of occupational
      ," MPRA Paper 31189, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item


    Returns to education; earnings; endogeneity; selectivity; informal sector; Sub-Saharan West Africa; Rendements de l’éducation; revenus; endogénéité; effet de sélection; secteur informel; Afrique de l’Ouest.;

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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