Sources of Inequality within the Cameroonian Labor Market: Sociodemographic versus National Economic Contexts

Fatou Jah, Cornell University

Like other developing regions, Africa has witnessed progress in women’s schooling, delaying marriage, and reducing fertility in the past decades. Theoretically, these trends could improve employment prospects for women and reduce gender inequalities at the level of the family, labor market, and society. Yet, the evidence on Africa has been spotty and weak. Combining discrete-event history analysis and qualitative data, both from Cameroon, in an innovative analytical framework, I show how the employment gender inequality has changed and decompose the sources of observed changes vis-a-vis schooling, marriage, and fertility. Results suggest that the employment inequality has persisted within both the overall and formal economic sectors. While periods of economic growth favor women’s than men’s formal sector prospects, Cameroonian women have not reaped the anticipated economic benefits to their human capital. Discrimination and lower access to economic opportunities explain the deep-seated inequality, regardless of human capital, marital status, and family size.

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Presented in Session 54: Economic Crisis and Gender Inequality in Sub-Saharan Africa