Examining women’s early labour market transitions in sub-Saharan Africa

Gender inequalities in the workplace arise from deep-rooted social norms that prevent women from advancing economically. The age at which they leave school, the nature of their first job, and the age at which they first give birth can determine how women enter and benefit from the labour market.

This project will study factors that can affect labour market outcomes for women in Eastern and West Africa. It will address three main questions: 

  • What influences how women choose their first jobs? 
  • What affects the age at which women leave full-time education?
  • How do early labour market and early fertility experiences affect women’s employment later in life?

This project will deepen understanding about the factors that constrain young women from making better choices in transitions from school to work, and into motherhood, and whether these constraining factors have lifelong consequences.


The methodology is base on a quantitative approach that will be both descriptive and econometric and that is based on a wide range of different, broadly comparable micro datasets. Moreover, the qualitative fieldwork will be conducted in all countries to better understand the issues.

NIESR is part of a research team that comprises leading researchers from the University of Sussex and six African countries (Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda).

Timescale and funder

The project is part of the The Growth and Economic Opportunities for Women (GrOW) program that is jointly funded by the UK's Department for International Development (DFID), The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC). The project began in November 2014 and will be completed by Autumn 2017.

More information is available about the project on the IDRC website.

Research programmes