Wednesday, November 23, 2011

30 November 2011: Learning by Doing: Skills and Jobs in Urban Ghana

Kim Lehrer
University of Oxford

This paper investigates the relationship between skills and job characteristics using a panel dataset of individuals in urban Ghana. The paper analyzes on-the-job skills acquisition and explores the link between general mathematics skills and jobs which involve handling of money. These mathematics skills are important not only in the workplace but also in general. The relationship between skills and jobs is identified by examining individuals who changed jobs between survey rounds. In the cross-sectional analysis, the authors exploit variation in the data by investigating the entire sample of employed individuals while controlling for education, cognitive ability, and the fact whether the individual’s primary work activity is self-employment or wage employment. They argue that the process of job choice in Ghana allows them to identify causal impacts. They found that money handling is positively associated with higher maths skills for both men and women. However, while for men, working in money handling intense jobs results in improvements in their basic and practical maths skills, for women the effect appears to be the development of more complex and advanced mathematics skills. These results are not driven by differences in mathematics scores by self-employment or wage employment and are robust to changes in the classification of money handling jobs. Finally, an interesting finding of the paper is that working in a job involving the handling of money is positively associated with higher maths scores only among men who have 8–10 years of education and among women with more than 10 years of schooling. This indicates that individuals at the low end of the distribution of years of education do not acquire mathematics skills through money handling jobs. It is only the approximately 40 per cent of men and 20 per cent of women who are already quite highly educated in the Ghanaian context who acquire these skills on the job.

Date: November 30, 2011
Time: 03:30 P.M.

NCAER Conference Room
National Council of Applied Economic Research
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New Delhi-110002(INDIA)


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