Does Off-Farm Wage Employment Make Women in Rural Senegal Happy?

Goedele Van den Broeck and Miet Maertens

This paper investigates the impact of wage employment on women’s well-being in the Senegalese horticultural export industry. It uses a subjective well-being approach, based on self-reported happiness, to capture income and non-income aspects of employment. The study uses original survey data from 2013 for the Saint-Louis region in Senegal and an instrumental variable approach, supported by information from focus group discussions. It finds that women’s employment improves subjective well-being for the poorest women, but not for women whose household income is above the poverty threshold. Women’s employment improves women’s happiness through an income effect, as it leads to higher income levels and improved living standards, but the non-income effects reduce women’s happiness. This negative effect is related to a higher workload and low job satisfaction due to unfulfilled expectations. The positive income effect outweighs these negative non-income effects for poor women but not for relatively wealthier women.

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