Looking for work: Evidence from the Ugandan labour market


Published 24.11.21
Photo credit:
Osseiran Nadine/ILO

While vocational training helps young job seekers find work, overconfidence in finding a job has important long-term effects on job-seeking behaviour

Read “The search for good jobs: Evidence from a six-year field experiment in Uganda” by Oriana Bandiera, Vittorio Bassi, Robin Burgess, Imran Rasul, Munshi Sulaiman, and Anna Vitali here.

Of the more than 420 million youth in Africa today, two-thirds lack access to high-quality, stable jobs. While the availability of good jobs is important, so is how young job seekers navigate entering the labour market and their ability to match with firms, both of which have important consequences for labour productivity and aggregate growth. In this VoxDevTalk, Anna Vitali and Imran Rasul discuss their recent work with a team of co-authors in which they study the process by which young job seekers in urban Uganda search for employment over a six-year period.

The authors assess how providing vocational training, light-touch job search assistance, or a combination of the two affects short-term and long-term employment outcomes. They find that at the onset of the intervention, most participants are overly optimistic about their job prospects. Although exposure to the intervention did increase long-run employment prospects, the discouragement of harsh labour market realities also had an impact on the quality of jobs participants ended up securing, with some sorting themselves into lower-quality firms. Their results show that such labour market interventions can have long-run benefits for vulnerable youth and that addressing expectations of early job seekers is also essential.