Education and labour market dynamics in a period of rapid education expansion: Building evidence from existing Ghanaian survey data sources

Recognising the need for policies that address poverty and inequality, and build social cohesion, the Ghanaian government rolled out free compulsory primary education in 1996 and free senior high school provision in 2017. With the first cohorts exposed to the free education policies now reaching prime adulthood, our project aims to take stock of how educational attainment has changed over time, and to examine the gendered consequences of these education changes for labour market dynamics and intergenerational socioeconomic mobility.

Evidence from this project will be relevant to policy making during a time of fiscal pressures, especially given that Ghana has one of the highest state investments in education in Africa (see Adu-Ababio & Osei, 2018).

Our overarching research question is therefore ‘What are the education, labour market, and intergenerational socioeconomic consequences associated with the expansion of education access in Ghana, and how do they differ for men and women?’ Our work programme is designed around three core activities: a data, research, and training contribution.

Data contributions

1. Stacked and harmonised cross-sectional data

Drawing on SALDRU’s learnings from stacking Statistics South Africa survey data in the Post-Apartheid Labour Market Series, we will stack the Ghana Living Standards Surveys and Population and Housing Census data alongside the Jobs of the World Database for Ghana to create a high frequency database of information on education, jobs, gender, and labour market activities.

2. Panel data contribution

Individual panel data allows an investigation of the mobility of individual socioeconomic outcomes over time. Recognising this, Ghana established the of Ghanaian Socioeconomic Panel Survey (GSPS) in 2009. The current version of the GSPS data is, however, not readily configured for the types of analyses that use panel data. Specifically, there is little evidence on both household and individual level attrition, and publicly available panel weights currently do not exist. An important output of our project will be the creation of publicly available data and documentation, coding files, and the production of weights for the GSPS.

Research contributions

Our research contribution will draw on synthetic panel data and panel data analysis techniques to study the consequences of the Ghanaian fee elimination programs. We envision three substantive empirical contributions.

1. Trends in education and labour market dynamics

2. Consequence of education reforms, evidence from harmonised cross-sectional data

3. Consequences of education reform, evidence from four waves of panel data

Training contribution

We have identified a need and demand for training in longitudinal data management and analysis from researchers across the continent. A key output will be to offer training in this regard, with the content designed around the use of the GSPS data.


This project is funded by the Gender, Growth and Labour Markets in Low Income Countries Programme for the period October 2023 – September 2026. The research is a collaboration between SALDRU’s Siyaphambili Post-school Research Initiative and researchers from the South Africa and Ghana nodes of the African Centre of Excellence for Inequality Research (ACEIR). Siyaphambili’s Nicola Branson and Vimal Ranchhod are co-PIs alongside Robert Osei from the ACEIR Ghana node, University of Ghana.