Regional migration and wage inequality in the West African economic and monetary union

Esther Mirjam Girsberger, Romuald Méango, Hillel Rapoport

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


We investigate the impact of intra-regional migration on wage inequality in the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA). We exploit unique data from a unified labour force household survey which covers natives and migrants in the seven economic capital cities of that region. We first estimate the counterfactual wage distributions of UEMOA migrants in absence of migration to evaluate the compositional effect of migration (i.e., when wages are treated as exogenous). We find that regional migration increases average wages by 1.8% and generates a decrease in inequality that ranges between −1.5% (for the Gini index) and −4.5% (for the interquartile ratio). This is essentially driven by a reduction in inequality between capital cities, while the effect of migration on within-capital cities inequality is heterogeneous across countries and remains small overall. Second, when accounting for possible general equilibrium effects of migration on stayers’ wages (i.e., when wages are treated as endogenous), we find similar to stronger effects on inequality, albeit with a smaller increase in the average wage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)385-404
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Comparative Economics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Association for Comparative Economic Studies


The authors thank the associate editor, two anonymous referees and Denis Cogneau for comments. We also thank the Agence Française de Développement for its financial support (convention IRS/ECO/437-2017) and DIAL - especially Constance Torelli and Francois Roubaud - for making the 1-2-3-Survey data available. The authors are grateful to the National Institutes of Statistics from Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal who supply their data to IPUMS. The paper benefitted from comments from conference participants at the CISEA in Abidjan (2018) and the ECINEQ in Paris (2019).

FundersFunder number
National Institutes of Statistics
Dairy Innovation Australia Limited
Agence Française de DéveloppementIRS/ECO/437-2017


    • Gini index
    • Interquartile ratio
    • Migration
    • Wage inequality
    • West Africa


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