Labor Markets

The effects of an African biomass expansion on labor markets and incomes

Problem statement:

Together with cropland, labor is the most important and extensively used production factor in SSA’s agriculture. Many processes, as for instance the expansion of cropland driven by population growth, are intimately linked to the functioning of labor markets. Therefore, the impact of expanding production and processing of biomass in African countries on food security will be transmitted through novel income sources for smallholders and through labor markets.

Objective: Detailed impact analysis of increased biomass production and processing on regional/national labor markets and related effects on income and the food purchasing power of households.

Research questions:

  1. Which impact will a biomass-based agribusiness expansion have on labor markets?
  2. Which existing and new skills and skill levels will be primarily demanded, and how much non-biomass employment could be generated as a result of biomass-driven economic growth?
  3. How will wages be affected?
  4. Which income effects can be expected from changes in labor markets, and how will these income effects, together with the price effects of biomass webs, influence access to food of the poorer parts of the population?
  5. Will job destruction through improved labor productivity in the semi-subsistence farm sector be met by job creation in biomass webs and other sectors of the economy?


Data on labor productivity and wage levels will be collected in field surveys among small-scale farmers, farm laborers and employers. Data collection will mainly be based on labor market surveys in rural and – as appropriate – peri-urban areas. The data will be analyzed with the aim to estimate regional labor supply and demand functions for relevant household types, skill levels and sectors. The results of existing household surveys in the study countries will be used to limit the effort required for data collection.

Countries of field research:

  • Nigeria
  • Ghana

Involved partners:

  • ILR, University of Bonn, Germany
  • ISSER, Ghana
  • University of Ibadan, Nigeria


  • Dr. Arnim Kuhn
    Senior Researcher
    University of Bonn
    Institute for Food and Resource Economics (ILR)
  • Dr. Felix Asante
    Senior Researcher
    Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER)
  • Prof. Dr. Victor Olusegun Okoruwa
    Senior Researcher
    University of Ibadan (UI)