Heterogeneous labor and structural change in low- and middle-income, resource-dependent countries

  • Peter HowieEmail author
  • Zauresh Atakhanova


In this paper we analyse structural change and its implications for labor productivity growth in Kazakhstan, Malawi, and Zambia, three resource-dependent countries, during the resource boom that lasted from 2001 to 2013. We pay particular attention to the effects of labor heterogeneity by assessing the demand for pre-determined occupations. The effects of structural change on heterogeneous labor markets are studied by developing a model to explain the observed patterns of labor migration between sectors. We use labor force survey data from Kazakhstan and census microdata for Malawi and Zambia available from the IPUMS International database. In-depth examinations are performed using a decomposition technique and multinomial logit regression to examine labor demand patterns. Results show that private services experienced the largest increase in employment across all occupations and relative skill deepening. Substantial decreases in managers occurred in public services. The results indicate that structural change is fundamental in shaping the allocation of individuals across different occupations within the labor market. Moreover, during a resource boom, the results indicate that the public sector experiences a skill-drain that may affect the quality of governance.


Structural change Labor productivity Resource boom Kazakhstan Malawi Zambia 

JEL Classification

L16 O47 Q32 Q33 



The authors would like to thank the editor and the two anonymous referees for their helpful and constructive comments. The usual disclaimer applies.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of Public PolicyNazarbayev UniversityAstanaKazakhstan
  2. 2.Academy of Public Administration of KazakhstanAstanaKazakhstan

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