Kenya has experienced a sharp decline in formal sector employment and a corresponding increase in informal sector employment. This paper examines the role played by various factors in influencing the sorting of individuals into different sectors of employment in urban Kenya. It examines whether factors influencing the location of individuals in different sectors change over time and differ across gender and thus contributes to an understanding of gender differences in job attainment. The paper complements the issues addressed in two other studies by the author on the remarkable rise in female Labour Force Participation Rate (LFPR) and on the gender gap in the incidence of unemployment. As may be expected, in both periods, experience and education are highly valued in the formal sector. Over time, the importance of education in securing labour market access increases by about 5 and 16 percentage points for primary and secondary education levels respectively. However, there are sharp gender differences. For men, the importance of education increases while for women it declines suggesting the presence of labour market segregation. Over time, the negative effect of marital status on female formal sector participation declines reflecting the increasing insertion of married women in the labour market. Underscoring the use of the informal sector as a last resort option, I find that declines in husbands’ real earnings are associated with a sharp increase in women’s participation in the informal sector. The increasing participation of women in the vulnerable informal sector is consistent with the feminist version of the structuralist characterisation of the informal sector.

education, feminist dualist and structuralist views, formal sector, gender, informal sector, labour market segregation
International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University (ISS)
ISS Working Papers - General Series
ISS Working Paper Series / General Series
International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University (ISS)

Wamuthenya, W.R. (2010). Determinants of urban job attainment in Kenya across time. ISS Working Paper Series / General Series (Vol. 507, pp. 1–40). International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University (ISS). Retrieved from