Working Paper
Dynamics of off-farm self-employment in West African Sahel

This study uses detailed household-level data to analyse off-farm self-employment dynamics in Mali and Niger. It adds to the literature that acknowledges the existence of heterogeneities in informal work and the body of evidence on informal self-employment in fragile and conflict-affected countries.

It finds that self-employed workers are more represented in the lower-tier informal work status, with a particularly high percentage in Niger and among female, rural, youth, and old adult workers in both countries. The study also finds that monthly average earnings from self-employment are lowest among lower-tier informal workers, who also have a low probability of transitioning out of this status.

However, household-related factors such as asset and livestock holdings and non-labour income may play an important role in helping these vulnerable groups of workers move up the self-employment ladder, especially in the event of shocks.