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Working Paper

Labor Productivity and Employment Gaps in Sub-Saharan Africa

LIVING STANDARDS JOBS EMPLOYMENT HOUSEHOLD SURVEY COUNTRY COMPARISONS PRODUCTIVITY LEVELS ECONOMIC GROWTH WORK FORCE ACCOUNTING PRODUCTION LAGS EMPLOYMENT SHARE STRUCTURAL CHANGE INCOME INTEREST SERVICE SECTOR GROSS REVENUES LABOR ALLOCATION INDUSTRY GROSS SALES STRATEGIES GDP PER CAPITA INFORMATION LABOR FORCE SERVICES WELFARE JOB EFFECTS INCENTIVES VARIABLES INPUTS RETAIL TRADE PAYMENTS SAVING AGRICULTURAL OUTPUT VALUE OF OUTPUT TRENDS DEVELOPMENT PER CAPITA INCOMES LABOR MARKET SAVINGS EMPLOYMENT LEVELS DEVELOPMENT ECONOMICS INDUSTRY WAGE EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT TRANSPORT ECONOMIC MOBILITY FIRM LEVEL LABOR PRODUCTIVITY GROWTH WORKER MANUFACTURING INDUSTRY PRODUCTIVITY ECONOMETRICS INTEREST RATES LABOR PRODUCTIVITY INDUSTRIALIZATION MIGRATION TOTAL WAGES MARKETS HOUSEHOLD INCOME ORGANIZATIONS HOUSEHOLD SURVEYS STANDARDS LABOR ENTERPRISES NATURAL RESOURCES FINANCE EFFICIENCY ECONOMIC RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURE PRODUCTIVITY GROWTH FACTOR MARKETS CONSUMPTION HUMAN CAPITAL VALUE ADDED WORKERS WAGES POLICIES LABOR DEMAND VALUE BANK PRODUCTIVE ACTIVITIES CLERKS PURCHASING POWER DEMAND PERMANENT INCOME OCCUPATIONS AGE GROUPS OCCUPATION SAFETY NET RURAL POVERTY INCOME EARNING CONSUMERS AGRICULTURE SERVICES CATEGORY NET VALUE RURAL WORKERS MEASUREMENT WAGE RATE SHARES HOUSEHOLD CHARACTERISTICS DOWNWARD BIAS EARNING BENCHMARK ECONOMICS MANAGEMENT GOVERNANCE LABOR ORGANIZATION SERVICE SECTORS TRADE GDP GOODS LAND SECURITY MARGINAL REVENUE INVESTMENT RISK PRODUCTIVITY GAP CONTRACTING LABORERS LABOR ALLOCATION DECISIONS TRANSACTIONS COSTS SUPPLY REVENUE LABOR SUPPLY PROFIT DISSAVINGS PRODUCTIVITY GAINS AVERAGE PRODUCTIVITY ECONOMICS RESEARCH CONSUMPTION LEVELS LABOR MARKETS GOVERNMENTS SAFETY RURAL INDUSTRY MIDDLE INCOME COUNTRIES WAGE EMPLOYMENT PRICES LABOR SHARE PRODUCTION COSTS NON-FARM SECTOR SERVICE PROVIDERS DEVELOPMENT POLICY FUTURE RESEARCH EXPECTED RETURNS EMPLOYEES
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World Bank, Washington, DC
Africa | Sub-Saharan Africa
2015-05-04T17:15:28Z | 2015-05-04T17:15:28Z | 2015-04

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 changes in African economies. However, because agricultural workers supply far fewer hours of labor per year than do workers in other sectors, productivity gaps disappear almost entirely when expressed on a per-hour basis. What look like large productivity gaps in national accounts data could really be employment gaps, calling into question the prospective gains that laborers can achieve through structural transformation. These employment gaps, along with the strong linkages observed between rural non-farm activities and primary agricultural production, highlight agricultures continued relevance to structural change in Sub-Saharan Africa.

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