Transitions to Adulthood: Education, Skills, and Labor Market Outcomes in Madagascar and Senegal

Women Attend Classes in Rural Community of Senegal

Project Summary

RAND and its partners are analyzing long-term longitudinal data from Madagascar and Senegal to examine the roles of education, skills, and family background for young men and women who are transitioning into the workforce.


There is growing interest and concern among international donors, policy makers, and the research community on the conditions under which young people in the developing world transition to adult roles, including their entry into work.

The design of policies to improve productivity and labor market opportunities and outcomes requires understanding the determinants—family, community and policies—of schooling, cognitive and non-cognitive skills attainment, and how achievement and ability impact transitions from adolescence into adulthood. However, especially for Africa, most available data has limited this analysis.

Data sets from the region are typically single cross-section surveys that are unable to: (1) link completed schooling and related cognitive and non-cognitive skills to family conditions and events in childhood and adolescence, (2) make reliable inferences about the impacts of policies or programs in place during this period on early labor market transitions, and (3) understand in a causal way the interrelationships of key behaviors such as schooling, marriage, and childbearing.


This project addresses these issues using unusual data collected in Madagascar and Senegal. The surveys follow cohorts of youth in each country who were initially tested in school in second grade, then interviewed at age 13-16, and finally re-interviewed at age 21-24, starting in 2011.

Extensive efforts were made to trace and re-interview members of the cohort who have migrated to urban areas or overseas. Study participants have by now made, or are making, transitions to employment, marriage, and parenthood, and the data will be used to examine the community, family, and individual determinants of these transitions.

In particular, the analysis will assess the importance of family background and skills obtained early in school on later schooling and work success, as well as on later skills. The study will also investigate the determinants of non-cognitive ("soft") skills and the effects of these skills on early labor market choices and outcomes. Additionally, the study will investigate the role of school and other policy factors on skills, labor market success, and other outcomes.


RAND researchers are working on this study with researchers at the World Bank, Cornell University, and the Centre d'Etudes et de Recherches sur le Développement International (CERDI), Université d'Auvergne, France.