MAKIESE NDOMA, FLAVIEN (2017). 'Inequalities in access to the congolese labor market and capabilities changes: An analysis using the segmented employment informality approach' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Cape Town 2017.


In Africa, the issue of labour market and employment is at the centre of all the stakes, for the majority of the population earns its income from labour, institutional transfers (social welfare) and income from finance capital play only a minor role (see Makabu, 2007). Generally speaking, in the southern countries poverty reduction depends upon job creation and decent work for all (UNDP, 2005). Unfortunately, this is only a wish; for, multiple environmental pressures make it more and more difficult to create jobs for all who apply for them, mainly for optimal conditions. Therefore, we are constantly confronted with a situation of an employment crisis; and, this is particularly the case in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).


The above situation tends to increase social inequalities, especially those related to employment; it thus reduces the transparency of  labour market. It also distorts the recruitment criteria for hiring candidates, and prevents some from exercising their capabilities or enjoying the true freedoms of individuals to choose "the life they have reasons to prefer" (A. Sen, 1992). In this opacity, having access to employment becomes a privilege reserved for only quite a few people. Consequently, building an egalitarian world on the basis of employment becomes uncertain, inasmuch as inequalities are but inherent in the mankind existential mode.


The analysis of these inequalities (related to human capital endowment, race, gender, age, ...), that was initially observed in the United States of America, gave rise to the theory of the segmentation of the labor market, for which Doeringer and Piore (1971) rather gave a dualist representation indicating 'primary market' and 'secondary market'.

Yet, the analysis of the labor market in the sub-Saharan Africa context demonstrates that the employment situation in these countries is characterized by the predominance of the informal sector. The informal economy --formerly considered as a reserve of marginal labour-- is far from being a tiny segment in the cities of developing countries as shown by several empirical studies (Zerbo, 2006). Furthermore, in the capital cities of West African countries informal activities account for more than 70% of employment. In DRC, on the other hand, informal employment occupied 91 and 89.5% of the active population, respectively in 2005 and 2012 (see INS, surveys 1-2-3). The informal sector is thus the preferred job for all in this country.


Capability hence viewed as the ability to exercise free choice, it should here be pointed out that the practice of informal employment often becomes a constrained option for the majority of Africans, particularly for well-trained people. For want of anything better, the latter choose these constrained options or simply resort to adaptive preferences. This leads to the observance of the paradoxical relationship between the education level and the occupation.


In the Congolese crisis environment, informal employment has become both structural and complex. Innovative activities are being developed in, and we find in actors with various profiles, an increasing number people holding higher education and/or university degrees.

Yet, all are not on the same level; we notice that differences in income and stability of activities characterize them all. It is the reason why we would like to resort to our approach to segmented job informality to analyze it.


In terms of segmentation, owing to surveys by Lewis (1954) and Todaro (1970), the developing economies were characterized by an opposition between two forms of activities: traditional in the rural and modern worlds in the urban world. Henceforth, the duel of the coexistence of, on the one hand, a traditional sector made up of small domestic production and a modern sector of large enterprises, on the other hand. Though the transposition of the primary market versus the secondary market model in developing economies seems to retain almost exclusively the formal / informal dichotomy, (see Lopez 1970, Fields 1975, Steel 1975, Mazumdar 1976), several surveys (Kannapan, 1985) have demonstrated that the strength of this opposition is not obvious. And, the heterogeneity within each sector constitutes a real analytical limit. Indeed, some informal sector occupations seem to ensure a return on human capital, comparable to that in the formal sector (see Sboui, 1997 & 2002).


Fields (2005) argues that there are both a "higher category" and a "lower category" in urban informal labour markets in developing countries (or easily accessible sectors and not easily accessible ones; see Fields [1990]) (OECD, 2009: 21-22). Obviously, this dichotomous view of the informal sector highlights the existence of segmentation within informal employment. In the same thread, Lautier (2004) rather speaks in terms of 'down-market' and 'up-market' informal economy. The latter refers to a genuine social division that separates the group of unskilled workers from the formal economy and the informal 'down-market' (including young people with no hope of statutory mobility), on the one hand, and the group formed by statutory employees and the 'up-market' (including small employers and high-income self-employed from informal activities, on the other hand (see Lautier, 2004: 86).


This paper therefore intends analyze the dynamics generated by informal employment in the DR Congo. It will seek to answer the question to know what changes have taken place in the informal labour market of this country, now plunged into a multifaceted crisis that has impacted its productive industry, having destroyed its formal employment and opened the way to exceptional informality ? With a segmentational approach and resorting to the cluster analysis method, this article will use the data from the 1-2-3 surveys to show that Congolese informal actors are unequally distributed in different clusters characterized by variables such as gender, age, status in employment, branch of activity, ...

Key words :labor market segmented, informality employment, cluster analysis,

                         Democratic Republic of Congo




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