Three Essays on Labor Market Incorporation and Remitting Behavior in Sub-Saharan Africa

Emmanuel Souza, University of Pennsylvania


This dissertation follows a three-chapter format, addressing migration-related issues in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The first and second chapters use Census data and logit models to examine labor market incorporation of African-born immigrants in South Africa, a country that has become a magnet for regional migration and a prime example of South-South migration. Chapter one examines a wide range of labor market outcomes for immigrant men relative to their internal migrant peers. It examines the extent to which prior models and arguments based on South-North migrants also apply to South-South flows. Results show considerable support for segmented assimilation perspectives. However, the existence of large informal sectors in the South African context is the central barrier to immigrants’ occupational and income attainment, a factor less relevant in the South-North context. In addition, better-resourced immigrant communities have better incorporation experiences than well-established communities. The second chapter investigates women’s labor market participation, considering women’s status, socio-cultural norms, and demographic trends in SSA. It explores the relative importance of human capital and family characteristics in explaining labor market disparities between immigrants and natives. Results underscore similar challenges to those experienced by immigrant men in South Africa. Comparatively, immigrants exhibit poor incorporation experiences than South African-born internal migrants. Family characteristics are the key factors explaining variations in immigrant women’s labor market decisions. In contrast, human capital factors are more salient for South African women, suggesting the importance of gender egalitarianism. Finally, the third chapter employs probit and Tobit models to examine household remittances in four SSA countries using World Bank data. It explores how family ties, migrant, and origin-household characteristics shape remitting behavior. Here, results are consistent with remitting patterns and motivations observed elsewhere. Altruism appears to be the primary motive behind remittances in SSA. However, the altruistic behavior is primarily driven by the obligation to remit rather than a selfless concern for the non-migrating household members as pure-altruism suggests. National origin variation in remitting behavior underscores the importance of access to international labor markets, gender dynamics, and origin countries’ level of development in shaping the pattern and use of remittances.

Subject Area

Demography|Labor economics|Economic theory|Sub Saharan Africa Studies

Recommended Citation

Souza, Emmanuel, "Three Essays on Labor Market Incorporation and Remitting Behavior in Sub-Saharan Africa" (2020). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI27836023.