Discussion Papers

No.759 Youth Employment under Economic Growth in Urban Africa: School-to-work transitions in Ghana and Kenya

by Takahiro Fukunish, Christian Samen Otchia

May 2019


The employment of youth has been a central concern in developing regions, where populations are young and growing rapidly. After the decade of economic growth, however, changes in youth employment in sub-Saharan Africa are not investigated. Focusing on school-to-work transitions, this paper compares employment performance between the senior cohort who entered into the labor market before the growth period and the younger cohorts who entered after, using data from several existing surveys in urban Ghana and Kenya. It demonstrates that the first job for young graduates is less likely vulnerable employment in Ghana and is in the industries with higher formality in the both countries. In mid-career, with experience of 2–10 years, the young cohorts earned as high as the senior cohort despite shorter experience. We found that the quality of the first job is positively associated with formality and earnings in mid-career. Young urban workers are better off on average.

Keywords:youth, employment, first job, Africa

JEL classification:J13, J21, J62

Please note that discussion papers are works in various stages of progress and most have not been edited and proofread and may contain errors of fact or judgment. Revised versions of these papers may subsequently appear in more formal publication series. The views expressed in this publication are those of the author(s). The IDE does not guarantee the accuracy of the data included and accepts no responsibility for any consequences arising from its use.