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Goetz, Julian Manuel (2022) The Impact of Informal and Rural Labour Markets on Poverty Reduction: A Mixed Methods Study of Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining (ASGM) in Northwest Tanzania. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis explores labour markets, their importance to rural non-farming income-generating activities in Sub-Saharan Africa, and the ways in which they affect poverty outcomes of artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM). It engages critically with both the literature portraying ASGM as a sector with the potential for poverty reduction and the scholarship claiming that rural labour markets are dominated by self-employment. By contrast, this thesis’s main argument is that the type of ASGM job and employment status translates into heterogeneous poverty outcomes and that this has been underexplored to date. Adopting a comparative case study format, it answers the question for whom ASGM works, and for whom it does not, by presenting and analysing qualitative and quantitative primary data collected during five months of fieldwork in Tanzania, drawing on political economy analysis. Survey and interview data show that ASGM households do not fare better than their non-mining counterparts, and that poverty rates in 2019 are as high as reported by a previous study in the same area in 2004. Distinct ASGM jobs and employment statuses translate into heterogeneous poverty outcomes. Waged and processing activities feature much lower incomes than the higher average incomes reported by previous contributions. Both findings are important, because two-thirds of the sampled ASGM labour force engage in waged labour and one-third in processing tasks. Questioning the picture of a homogeneous sector, the thesis calls for a more nuanced view of ASGM’s ability to reduce poverty. In so doing, it emphasises the need to examine labour markets, and their political economy, in a more inclusive fashion. By reporting substantial levels of waged ASGM activities, this thesis speaks to empirical literature challenging the orthodox assumption of self-employment as the main and only informal employment status. Lastly, this thesis aims to contribute to the broader debate on formalisation by highlighting that incorporating organisational practices as well as understanding labour structures and dynamics is of paramount importance.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Matteo Rizzo
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 04 Feb 2022 16:55
Funders: Other

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