National cohesion and labor productivity are two central issues in sub-Saharan Africa. Ghana’s National Service Scheme (NSS) is an ambitious government program intended to address both. Each year, more than 70,000 tertiary graduates are assigned by the NSS to 12-month employment postings throughout the country. Given this large-scale labor mobilization, what assignment mechanism(s) are optimal for achieving the stated goals of the NSS and maintaining compliance with posting assignments? Policymakers have a large degree of flexibility in assigning participants to a posting, including the location, industry, and the specific employer a participant is matched with.
The research team uses quasi-random variation in postings to examine the determinants of compliance as well as the effects of different placements in Ghana’s NSS program on national identity, migration and assimilation, and labor market outcomes. This study will enable the NSS to better understand the tradeoffs associated with alternative assignment mechanisms. Moreover, the research will also shed light on likely tradeoffs for national service schemes operating in other multi-ethnic and developing countries.
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