Journal of African transformation = Revue des mutations en Afrique Volume 4, Number 1 & 2, 2019
Author(s)/Corporate Author (s)Adejumobi, Said;
United Nations. Economic Commission for Africa;
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The present article discusses the aspirations and preferences of young people in rural sub-Saharan Africa, using large-scale short message service (SMS)- based survey data and complementing them with an investigation on the causal effects of adolescent aspirations on the migration decisions of young people in south-western Ethiopia. Results from the cross-country study show that most young Africans in rural areas prefer working in non-farm economic sectors, and more than half of them are undecided about their migration aspirations. This provides an opportunity for Governments to influence the rural outmigration of young people. Policymakers, however, should be equally aware that anti-poverty policy measures that simply improve the incomes of these young people might have unpredictable and unintended consequences on their migration decisions; therefore, their policy measures may have to influence the perceptions of young people towards farming and rural life, and to make rural areas more attractive to them. Taking south-western Ethiopia as a case in point, more than half the adolescents were found to have negative perceptions about farming (both farming life and the prerequisites to become a farmer). In addition, results from the study showed that educational and occupational aspirations during adolescence exert differing effects on migration decisions after four years. While those who aspire to attain more years of schooling are unlikely to outmigrate within this time period, their counterparts who aspire to have high socioeconomic status occupations tend to outmigrate from their respective areas. Accordingly, African countries should work towards making rural areas and farming more attractive to aspiring young people, through improving access to technology, developing infrastructure and providing support to non-farm sectors expansion.