From School to Work: A Historical Overview of the Gains to Sub-Saharan Women in Education and Employment

Fatou Jah, Cornell University

In the last two decades, women in sub-Saharan Africa have registered substantial gains in education. Despite extensive documentation, it remains unclear whether these advances have translated into labor market outcomes as well. We combine DHS data from 22 countries with detail family histories from Cameroon to examine women’s employment gains across 30 years. We distinguish formal from informal sector employment in examining the relative influences of: women’s gains in human capital; discrimination within the household; discrimination within the labor market; and macroeconomic conditions. The analyses test competing theories about the formation of inequality: human capital, conflict theory, and cultural bias. We use discrete-time logistic regression models to estimate the risk of unemployment, adjusting for fixed effects of families. The preliminary results suggest that gains in education have led to some gains in both formal and informal work for sub-Saharan African women, especially, under favorable economic conditions, yet important gaps remain.

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Presented in Poster Session 2