Zimbabwe is a low-income economy emerging from years of economic crisis. The crisis had a profound impact on production, employment and human development. The policy challenges to growth and recovery are severe and will require rigorous economic analysis drawing on a detailed understanding of the field and relevant data of a high quality.
This project addresses some of the data and research constraints that inhibit appropriate policy formulation by collecting and analysing manufacturing firm survey data in Zimbabwe. In particular, the project builds a panel of firm data in Zimbabwe that covers various years over the period 1993 to 2015 and add a matched survey of employees. This creates a matched employee-employer database that follows employees over the period 2015 to 2016.
The study enables a two-prong approach to better understand firm-employment dynamics in Zimbabwe. Firstly, the survey administered to the firm contains a detailed module on employment. This includes hard data questions on the number of employees and their characteristics (full time, part-time, occupation, gender, education), average wages and benefits, reasons for changes in employment (hiring, firing, retirement), union membership, wage setting agreements, types of training provided (in-house, formal company training, outside company). The surveys also contain qualitative questions on the manager’s opinions regarding labour market regulations, cost of labour, availability of labour, etc. Recall data on employment numbers is also requested to build a profile of employment dynamics within the firm in years prior to the survey.
Secondly, the linked employer-employee database (LEED) enables a better understanding of individual’s choices regarding careers, adjustments to employment shocks, the link between education and earnings, and how firm outcomes impact on the incomes of workers. In addition, the information on workers’ education allows for a better measurement of the stock of human capital in firms and hence the estimation of firm productivity. The panel dimension constructed from the follow-up surveys of workers enables research on topics such as how earnings are related to worker’s movements across firms and whether workers leave firms to become self-employed once they have saved up enough to cover the start-up capital costs. Further, the employee survey provides insight into the relationship between migration, growth and earnings, an issue of considerable importance in Zimbabwe given the significant levels internal and regional migration during the economic crisis.
In addition, the project initiates and directly engages in research using the data collected. This objective is achieved through the public provision of the data, the building of research capacity through the provision of a PhD Scholarship and the involvement of young emerging Zimbabwean researchers, as well as the production of various academic papers.
This project enables a new body of evidence on how past structural changes in the Zimbabwean economy during the period of economic crisis affected labour markets, as well as how future growth and structural change link to labour market outcomes. In collecting, providing and analysing the data, the project builds a closer synergy between evidence and policy formulation in Zimbabwe.