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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 University of Toronto, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number tecipa-291.

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Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: 18 Jun 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:tor:tecipa:tecipa-291
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  1. Marcela Eslava & John Haltiwanger & Adriana Kugler & Maurice Kugler, 2004. "The effects of structural reforms on productivity and profitability enhancing reallocation: Evidence from Colombia," Economics Working Papers 763, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  2. Lorraine Dearden & Howard Reed & John Van Reenen, 2005. "The impact of training on productivity and wages: evidence from British panel data," IFS Working Papers W05/16, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  3. 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.
  4. Judith K. Hellerstein & David Neumark, 2004. "Production Function and Wage Equation Estimation with Heterogeneous Labor: Evidence from a New Matched Employer-Employee Data Set," NBER Working Papers 10325, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. 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.
  6. Naércio Aquino Menezes Filho & Marc-Andreas Muendler, 2007. "Labor Reallocation in Response to Trade Reform," CESifo Working Paper Series 1936, CESifo Group Munich.
  7. 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.
  8. Van Biesebroeck, Johannes, 2011. "Wages Equal Productivity. Fact or Fiction? Evidence from Sub Saharan Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 39(8), pages 1333-1346, August.
  9. 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.
  10. Haegeland, T. & Klette, T.J., 1998. "Do Higher Wages Reflect Higher Productivity? Education, Gender and Experience Premiums in a Matched Plant-Worker Data Set," Memorandum 24/1998, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
  11. 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.
  12. Fafchamps, Marcel, 1997. "Introduction: Markets in sub-saharan Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 25(5), pages 733-734, May.
  13. 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.
  14. Jones, Patricia, 2001. "Are educated workers really more productive?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 57-79, February.
  15. 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.
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