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Labor productivity and employment gaps in Sub-Saharan Africa

Ellen McCullough

Food Policy, 2017, vol. 67, issue C, 133-152

Abstract: Drawing on a new set of nationally representative, internationally comparable household surveys, this paper provides an overview of key features of structural transformation – labor allocation and labor productivity – in four African economies. New, micro-based measures of sector labor allocation and cross-sector productivity differentials describe the incentives households face when allocating their labor. These measures are similar to national accounts-based measures that are typically used to characterize structural change. However, because agricultural workers supply far fewer hours of labor per year than do workers in other sectors in all of the countries analyzed, productivity gaps shrink by half, on average, when expressed on a per-hour basis. Underlying the productivity gaps that are prominently reflected in national accounts data are large employment gaps, which call into question the productivity gains that laborers can achieve through structural transformation. Furthermore, agriculture’s continued relevance to structural change in Sub-Saharan Africa is highlighted by the strong linkages observed between rural non-farm activities and primary agricultural production.

Keywords: Structural transformation; Sub-Saharan Africa; Agricultural labor productivity; Sector labor shares; Productivity gaps (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J21 J22 J24 O12 Q10 Q12 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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