African Mining, Gender, and Local Employment


Andreas Kotsadam, and Anja Tolonen. 2016. “African Mining, Gender, and Local Employment.” World Development 83: 325–39.

Authors: Andreas Kotsadam, Anja Toloen


The discovery of natural resources across the African continent brings hope for millions of poor people, but there are long-standing fears that the resources will be a curse rather than a blessing. One of the most frequently claimed effects is that gender inequality in economic opportunities may increase with mining. This paper is the first multi-country quantitative analysis of the local employment impacts for men and women of large-scale mining in the African continent. Using exact mine locations, we merge survey data for 800,000 individuals with data on all mine openings and closings across the continent, which enables a highly localized analysis of spillover effects. We employ a geographic difference-in-difference estimation exploiting the spatial and temporal variation in mining. We show that industrial mine opening is a mixed blessing for women. It triggers a local structural shift, whereby women shift from agricul- tural self-employment (25% decrease) to the service sector (50% increase), and are 16% more likely to earn cash. However, overall female employment decreases by 8% as agriculture is a larger sector than services. Male partners shift to skilled manual labor, and some find jobs in the mining sector. The effects of mine openings diminish with distance and are close to zero at 50 km from a mine. Mine closure causes the service and skilled sectors to contract. The results are robust to a wide battery of robustness checks, such as using different measures of distance and excluding migrants from the sample. This paper shows that large-scale mining can stimulate nonagricultural sectors in Africa, although it creates local boom-bust economies with transient and gender-specific employment effects.

Keywords: natural resources, female employment, Africa

Topics: Agriculture, Development, Economies, Economic Inequality, Extractive Industries, Gender, Women Regions: Africa

Year: 2016

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