When the Sweat of your Brow isn’t enough: How to get good pay and good work in Kenya

A recent paper by the International Poverty Center paints a familiar picture of unemployment in Kenya. Like many countries in Africa  under and undemployment is higher in rural than in urban areas; more women are affected by these phenomena than men; and the young and old working-age workers are more affected than the rest of the work force.

Eduardo Zebeda’s paper Addressing the Employment-Poverty Nexus in Kenya compares the effectiveness of a job-creation and a cash-transfer programme in alleviating the failures of the Kenyan labour market. He finds that cash-transfers are very effective in rural areas because of the high dependency ratio. He also finds that well designed job-creation programs are more effective in reaching extremely poor people in urban areas. They have the added advantage of creating local infrastructure.

However in the end Zebeda finds that a tertiary qualification and employment in the formal sector are the most important determinants of household income. In the long run, therefore, only the creation of formal sector employment and more and better tertiary education will provide a check on poverty in Kenya.

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