2016 Equality Other

Women in African Natural Resource Booms

Anja Tolonen

Promoting natural resource extraction as a strategy for economic development is controversial, although a common reality in many developing countries. The research summarized in this brief explores the local welfare effects of largescale mining in Sub-Saharan Afria. In particular, it explores changes in labor market participation for men and women, changes in gender norms and infant mortality.

The report was presented during the seminar Gender in Humanitarian aid and women in African natural Resources Booms.

Main findings

  • The expansion of large-scale gold mines generate local economic shocks that have the power to change gender norms and female empowerment. Moreover, they have strong positive effects of infant survival.
  • With mine opening, women living within 20 km of a mine switch from self-employment in agriculture to working in services or they leave the work force. Men switch from agriculture to skilled manual labor.
  • Mining creates local boom-bust economies in Africa, with permanent effects on women’s labor market participation. Effects are stronger in years of high world prices.

Anja Tolonen is an assistant professor at Department of Economics at Barnard College, Columbia University. She defended her dissertation Mining Booms in Africa and Local Welfare Effects: Labor markets, Female Empowerment, and Criminality in May 2015 at University of Gothenburg.