Why getting a job isn't a ticket out of poverty

Employment is not enough to get you out of poverty in Nigeria. Many Nigerians are working and poor. In some cases, the more they work, the poorer they get. 

To understand the scale of the situation, let's start by understanding poverty and how it is measured.

Poverty is multidimensional; but to put it simply, it is one's inability to meet their basic needs and wants. So, food, shelter, clothing, primary education and sanitation—are collectively referred to as welfare. When an individual cannot afford these needs, the person is considered poor. The lack of access to these needs and wants can be monetary or non-monetary. It's monetary when the person does not have the money to afford these things and non-monetary when non-financial barriers prevent you from accessing these needs, like geographical limitations, culture and more.


Key takeaways:

  • Using consumption as a measure of poverty exposes that employment is not an antidote to poverty in Nigeria. According to the World Bank's poverty assessment for Nigeria, poorer Nigerians are more likely to be employed than wealthier Nigerians.

  • Poor Nigerians are stuck in farming and non-farm household jobs, which are highly volatile and earn them fewer benefits than wage jobs. 

  • Well paying jobs are also skewed to wealthier states which restrict poorer people from accessing them.


For the sake of this article, we'll focus on just the monetary aspect.

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Gbemisola Alonge

Gbemisola Alonge

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