Working Paper
Spatial Inequality for Manufacturing Wages in Five African Countries

This paper uses data on individual earnings in manufacturing industry for five African countries in the early 1990s to test whether firms located in the capital city pay higher wages than firms located elsewhere, and whether such benefits accrue to all or only certain types of workers. Earnings equations are estimated that take into account worker characteristics (education and tenure) and relevant firm characteristics (notably size and whether foreign owned). Any location effect identified is therefore additional to appropriate control variables. There are two main findings. First, we find evidence of a ‘pure capital city premium’ equivalent to between 12 per cent and 28 per cent of nominal average earnings in the five countries. In some countries this location premium exceeds plausible consumer price differentials, between the capital and other urban areas. This does suggest that real (purchasing power) manufacturing wages are higher in the capital city (although this real premium is no more than ten per cent). Second, we find that skilled workers earn a higher wage premium in the capital city than those less skilled. However, this is not because of location effects on earnings per se, but rather because of other firm characteristics of firms located in the capital city, such as size and foreign ownership. This suggests that spatial inequality in itself does not directly contribute to skilled–less-skilled wage differentials.