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Street based self-employment: A poverty trap or a stepping stone for migrant youth in Africa?

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  • Bezu, Sosina

    (Centre for Land Tenure Studies, Norwegian University of Life Sciences)

  • Holden, Stein

    (Centre for Land Tenure Studies, Norwegian University of Life Sciences)

Abstract

Street vending of goods and services is a common phenomenon in urban areas of Africa. Although such street based self-employment activities often lack legal recognition and are sometimes criminalized, significant share of the youth labor force in urban areas earn their livelihood from such activities. This study examines whether street based self-employment is a viable livelihood with a potential for transition or a poverty trap for youth migrants. The study is based on a survey of 445 youth who are engaged in shoe shining and coffee vending activities in two urban areas in Ethiopia. We found that street based self-employment is indeed dominated by migrant youth. In this sample, 96% of those engaged in the street based self-employment are youth and 98% are migrants from rural areas or smaller towns. We found that the average monthly earning of these self-employed youth is better than the minimum wage in public sector and much larger than the official poverty line. We found that most of the youth consider this as transitory employment and accumulate skill and capital with a view to establishing their own enterprise or joining skilled employment. While young women are in general found to be less likely than young men to seek exit out of street based self-employment, education increases the likelihood that young women aspire for a change in their employment situation. Youth with better-off parents back home and those with larger network in their new residence are more likely to change their current occupation.

Suggested Citation

  • Bezu, Sosina & Holden, Stein, 2015. "Street based self-employment: A poverty trap or a stepping stone for migrant youth in Africa?," CLTS Working Papers 4/15, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Centre for Land Tenure Studies, revised 16 Oct 2019.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:nlsclt:2015_004
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    Cited by:

    1. Holden, Stein T. & Tilahun, Mesfin, 2016. "Youth as Environmental Custodians: A Potential Tragedy or A Sustainable Business and Livelihood Model?," CLTS Working Papers 6/16, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Centre for Land Tenure Studies, revised 21 Oct 2019.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Informal employment; youth migration; youth unemployment; Africa; Ethiopia;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J20 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - General
    • J60 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - General
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements

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