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Promoting productive employment in Sub‐Saharan Africa : a review of the literature

Author

Listed:
  • Szirmai A.
  • Gebreeyesus M.
  • Guadagno F.
  • Verspagen B.

    (UNU-MERIT)

Abstract

This report provides an overview of current research on and knowledge about employment trends and policies in sub-Saharan Africa. Access to productive employment is seen as essential for poverty reduction and the inclusion of the poor in wider society. Productive employment is characterised by a. Sufficient income to permit workers and their dependents a level of consumption above the poverty line; b. Stability of this income over time absence of vulnerability; c. Decent working conditions and working hours. The challenge of African economies lies not so much in open unemployment, as in the quality of employment as defined by earnings, vulnerability and working conditions. Much employment is located in the informalsector, where vulnerability is a serious problem. High youth employment in young populations is another serious challenge. Causes of employment problems include lack of the right kinds of structural change, skill mismatches on the labour market, insufficient attention for SMEs with growth potential and insufficient innovation. The paper discusses a wide range of policies to promote productive employment including trade policies, sectoral policies, innovation policies, population policies and employment and labour market policies. The paper concludes with a discussion of emerging debates and contrasting views with regard to productive employment. It summarises the debates on agricultural led industrial development, resource based industrialisation, emergence of non-traditional exports, employment in labour intensive modern commercial agriculture, the role of manufacturing in growth and employment creation, the exploitation of unlimited supplies of labour, role of FDI and promoting pro-poor innovation in the informal sector.

Suggested Citation

  • Szirmai A. & Gebreeyesus M. & Guadagno F. & Verspagen B., 2013. "Promoting productive employment in Sub‐Saharan Africa : a review of the literature," MERIT Working Papers 062, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
  • Handle: RePEc:unm:unumer:2013062
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    File URL: https://www.merit.unu.edu/publications/wppdf/2013/wp2013-062.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Das, Gouranga Gopal, 2015. "Why some countries are slow in acquiring new technologies? A model of trade-led diffusion and absorption," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 65-91.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Labor Force and Employment; Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity; Safety; Job Satisfaction;

    JEL classification:

    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J28 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Safety; Job Satisfaction; Related Public Policy
    • O20 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy - - - General
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General

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