Central Data Catalog

Citation Information

Type Working Paper - UNU-MERIT Working Papers
Title Promoting productive employment in Sub-Saharan Africa: A review of the literature
Author(s)
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2013
URL http://migrationdev.merit.unu.edu/publications/wppdf/2013/wp2013-062.pdf
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 informal
sector, 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.

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