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Inequality of opportunity on the urban labour market in West Africa


  • Laure Pasquier-Doumer

    () (DIAL, IRD, Paris)


(english) As labour income is the first source of income in developing countries, inequalities in the labour markets contribute in a large part to global inequalities. This paper aims at understanding how the socio-economic background of a person determines his opportunities in the labour markets of West- African cities. It seeks to answer the following questions: to what extent one’s position in the labour market is determined by his father’s one and what explains differences between the West-African cities? Does the father’s position influence directly the occupational situation of his children through the transmission of informational, social or physical capital gained in the course of his career? Or does it play an indirect role through determining the educational level of his children that will in turn be responsible for their position in the labour markets? Depending on whether the link between father’s and children’s occupation is direct or indirect, political implications are very different. In the first case, reducing inequality of opportunities means improving labour markets efficiency and in the second case, it means improving educational policy. _________________________________ (français) Comprendre les inégalités sur le marché du travail dans les pays en développement constitue un enjeu important dans la mesure où les revenus du travail y sont la principale source de revenu pour la majorité des ménages. Cette étude vise à identifier dans quelle mesure l’origine sociale des travailleurs détermine leur opportunités sur le marché du travail. Elle compare le degré d’inégalité des chances sur le marché du travail dans sept capitales économiques ouest africaines, définie comme l’association nette entre la position sur le marché du travail des individus et celle de leur père. Cette comparaison permet d’identifier les caractéristiques des pays présentant les degrés les plus élevés et d’apporter des éléments pour évaluer les différentes thèses expliquant les différences entre les pays en termes d’inégalités des chances. Elle estime ensuite pour chacune des villes si la situation professionnelle du père agit directement sur le positionnement sur le marché du travail ou si son effet est indirect, à travers l’éducation. Les implications en termes de politiques publiques sont très différentes selon les deux cas. Dans le premier cas, les politiques visant à égaliser les chances doivent agir directement sur le marché du travail, dans le second cas, elles doivent agir en amont, sur le système éducatif.

Suggested Citation

  • Laure Pasquier-Doumer, 2010. "Inequality of opportunity on the urban labour market in West Africa," Working Papers DT/2010/09, DIAL (Développement, Institutions et Mondialisation).
  • Handle: RePEc:dia:wpaper:dt201009

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    Cited by:

    1. Nordman, Christophe J. & Pasquier-Doumer, Laure, 2015. "Transitions in a West African labour market: The role of family networks," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 74-85.
    2. Christophe Nordman & Laure Pasquier-Doumer, 2013. "Transitions in a West African Labour Market: The Role of Social Networks," Working Papers DT/2013/12, DIAL (Développement, Institutions et Mondialisation).
    3. KUEPIE Mathias & NOUETAGNI Samuel, 2013. "Socioeconomic background, human capital and youth employment: the case of a medium-sized Cameroonian city (Bafia)," LISER Working Paper Series 2013-09, LISER.
    4. repec:dau:papers:123456789/12204 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    Inequality of opportunity; informal sector; West Africa; Inégalité des chances; 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
    • J62 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Job, Occupational and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement

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