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Social Mobility in Five African Countries

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This paper conceptualizes intergenerational occupational mobility between the farm and non‐farm sectors in five African countries, measures it using nationally representative household survey data, and analyzes its determinants through a comparative method based on pooled logit regressions. We first analyze intergenerational gross mobility. Until the end of the 1980s, intergenerational flows toward the non‐farm sector are high in Côte d'Ivoire and Guinea, flows toward the farm sector are more often observed in Ghana and Uganda, and Madagascar displays less mobility in either direction. The pace of change in occupational structures and the magnitude of labor income dualism between the farm and non‐farm sectors appear to explain those differences. We then net out structural change across generations and establish the first measurement of intergenerational net mobility in those five African countries. Ghana and Uganda stand out as relatively more fluid societies. Côte d'Ivoire and Guinea come next while Madagascar shows a particularly high reproduction of occupations. Educational mobility accounts for the Madagascar exception to a large extent, but not for the differences between the other countries. Spatial dualism of employment, i.e. the geographic segregation of farm and non‐farm jobs, accounts for most of those remaining differences. We argue that the main determinants of intergenerational mobility, namely income and employment dualisms, likely reflect a historical legacy of different colonial administrations.
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Keywords: Africa; J62; N37; O15; colonization; dualism; inequality; intergenerational mobility

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 October 2013

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