Migration, occupation and education: Evidence from Ghana

Clotilde Mahé & Wim Naudé


We investigate whether the occupational productivity and employment status of individuals living in a household with migrants differ from those living in non-migrant households using the sixth round of the Ghana Living Standards Survey (GLSS6) and the Africa Sector Database (ASD). We find that rural households and households with a head in more productive occupations are more likely to have migrant members, and that rural households and households with a head who are waged-employed are more likely to have a migrant than households with members who are self-employed. While these findings are not suprising, we find some more unexpected results. For instance, migrants do not always migrate to more productive occupations; migration can result in downward occupational mobility. Migrants in our sample do not send back much remittances. Migrant-sending households in Ghana are in fact more likely to send remittances to their relatives currently away, than to receive remittances. In an attempt to explain these somewhat puzzling findings, we argue that a motivation for rural households or households with a head in a more productive occupation to send out relatives is to support younger household members to pursue their education elsewhere. Migration is therefore a long(er)-run income-and-occupational diversification strategy of the more productively employed rural households in Ghana.

JEL Classification: O150, O180, R23

Keywords: migration, occupational choice, structural transformation, Africa

Download the working paper