Working while Studying: Employment Premium or Penalty for Youth in Benin?

Most youth in developing countries leave school with only a general academic education level, slowing down their transition to the labor market. We analyze whether work experience during school can help youth transition more easily to a first job in Benin. We used data from the 2014 School-to-Work Transition Survey (SWTS) and a multi-equation model to account for endogeneity and sample-selection bias in estimating the effect of work experience during school on the transition to first job. Our findings are that work during summer breaks or holidays makes the transition from school to first job easier, especially when combined with apprenticeships, but these results were significant only for men and youth who left school with at least a secondary education. The important impact of work experience during studies on the ability to pursue job opportunities after school is highlighted.