In the media
Nigeria's jobless growth – Newsweek opinion piece highlights findings from Understanding the African Lions project

Where are the expected gains in poverty and unemployment from Nigeria’s growth?’ asks Christina Golubski in an opinion piece published on the Newsweek on 10 May 2016.

The piece builds on a recent WIDER Working Paper by Olu Ajakaiye, Afeikhena T. Jerome, David Nabena, and Olufunke A. Alaba titled ‘Understanding the relationship between growth and employment in Nigeria’ that finds that Nigeria’s growth has indeed been ‘jobless’.

Golubski summarizes the study’s findings on the dynamics of Nigeria’s current situation and challenges:

  1. Jobless growth. Nigeria’s real GDP growth rate was 6.31 in 2014. Despite economic growth in recent years, the country still has a big unemployment problem: its unemployment rate increased from 23.9% in 2011 to 25.1% in 2014.
  2. Slow growth of the labor-intensive industrial sector. Unlike the structural transformation trend seen in Asia where labor moves to the high-productivity manufacturing sector instead, in Nigeria labor is leaving the low-productivity agricultural sector for the services sector.
  3. A youth bulge. While forty-two percent of Nigeria’s population is less than 14 years old, and 29 percent is between 15 and 19 years old, youth unemployment is becoming a major concern for policymakers. In 2014, 45.8% of youth were unemployed.

If Nigeria can enact effective policies for productive employment creation for the youth, expanding the workforce, it will “provide a significant boost in economic productivity, not only in the production of manufactured goods, services, and agricultural produce, but also in the wake of an increasing purchasing power that fuels economic growth and development,”’ Golubski concludes.

Christina Golubski is the Assistant Director of the Africa Growth Initiative at the Brookings Institution.

WIDER Working Paper Understanding the relationship between growth and employment in Nigeria’ is part of ‘Understanding the African lions – growth traps and opportunities in six dominant African economies’ research project which aims to define some of the key constraints facing African economies as they attempt to maintain a long-run economic growth and development trajectory.