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Wage and Productivity Premiums in Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Johannes Van Biesebroeck

Using a matched employer-employee data set of manufacturing plants in three sub-Saharan countries, I compare the marginal productivity of different categories of workers with the wages they earn. A methodological contribution is to estimate the firm level production function jointly with the individual level wage equation using a feasible GLS estimator. The additional information of individual workers leads to more precise estimates, especially of the wage premiums, and to a more accurate test. The results indicate that equality holds strongly for the most developed country in the sample (Zimbabwe), but not at all for the least developed country (Tanzania). Moreover, the breakdown in correct remuneration in the two least developed countries follows a distinct pattern. On the one hand, wage premiums exceed productivity premiums for general human capital characteristics (experience and schooling). On the other hand, salaries hardly increase for more firm-specific human capital characteristics (tenure and training), even though these have a clear productivity effect.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13306.

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Date of creation: Aug 2007
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Publication status: published as Wage and Productivity Premiums in Sub-Saharan Africa , Johannes Van Biesebroeck. in The Analysis of Firms and Employees: Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches , Bender, Lane, Shaw, Andersson, and von Wachter. 2008
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13306
Note: LS PR
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  1. Bigsten, Arne, et al, 2000. "Rates of Return on Physical and Human Capital in Africa's Manufacturing Sector," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 48(4), pages 801-27, July.
  2. Judith Hellerstein & David Neumark, 2004. "Production Function and Wage Equation Estimation with Heterogenous Labor: Evidence from a New Matched Employer-Employee Dataset," Working Papers 04-05, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  3. Marcela Eslava & John Haltiwanger & Adriana Kugler & Maurice Kugler, 2004. "The Effect of Structural Reforms on Productivity and Profitability Enhancing Reallocation: Evidence from Colombia," NBER Working Papers 10367, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. James Tybout, 1999. "Manufacturing Firms in Developing Countries: How Well Do They Do, and Why?," Development and Comp Systems 9906001, EconWPA, revised 10 Jun 1999.
  5. Simon Appleton & John Hoddinott & John MacKinnon, 1996. "Education and health in sub-Saharan Africa," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 8(3), pages 307-339.
  6. Torbjørn Hægeland & Tor Jakob Klette, 1997. "Do Higher Wages Reflect Higher Productivity? Education, Gender and Experience Premiums in a Matched Plant-Worker Data Set," Discussion Papers 208, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
  7. Lorraine Dearden & Howard Reed & John Van Reenen, 2006. "The Impact of Training on Productivity and Wages: Evidence from British Panel Data," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 68(4), pages 397-421, 08.
  8. Muendler, Marc-Andreas, 2007. "Labor Reallocation in Response to Trade Reform," University of California at San Diego, Economics Working Paper Series qt3cm38535, Department of Economics, UC San Diego.
  9. Johannes Van Biesebroeck, 2003. "Wages Equal Productivity: Fact or Fiction?," NBER Working Papers 10174, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Bruno Crépon & Nicolas Deniau & Sébastien Pérez-Duarte, 2003. "Wages, Productivity and Worker Characteristics : A French Perspective," Working Papers 2003-04, Centre de Recherche en Economie et Statistique.
  11. Fafchamps, Marcel, 1997. "Introduction: Markets in sub-saharan Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 25(5), pages 733-734, May.
  12. Jones, Patricia, 2001. "Are educated workers really more productive?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 57-79, February.
  13. Knight, J B & Sabot, R H, 1987. "Educational Policy and Labour Productivity: An Output Accounting Exercise," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 97(385), pages 199-214, March.
  14. Van Biesebroeck, Johannes, 2005. "Firm Size Matters: Growth and Productivity Growth in African Manufacturing," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 53(3), pages 545-83, April.
  15. Paul Collier & Marcel Fafchamps & Francis Teal & Stefan Dercon, 1998. "Rates of return on physical and human capital in Africa`s manufacturing sector," Economics Series Working Papers WPS/1998-12, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
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