Shifts in the livelihood structure of Zimbabwe following economic liberalisation.


How is globalisation affecting livelihoods, education and qualifications? Through an analysis of secondary data, this report examines the ways in which economic liberalisation policies introduced in Zimbabwe in 1990 have changed the structure of livelihoods.

The report describes the economic situation of the country prior to reforms, and discusses the nature and impacts of reforms undertaken as part of an economic structural adjustment programme (ESAP).

The analysis finds that economic liberalisation delivered by the ESAP resulted in a downward spiral of the livelihoods of the majority of Zimbabweans, because:

  • unemployment levels increased as a result of cuts to public the sector and a decline in the private sector
  • the anticipated shift towards labour-intensive production, predicted to increase employment, did not occur. This may have been because firms had already responded to the absolute shortage of foreign currency in Zimbabwe by employing the most labour-intensive production possible without compromising quality of their products
  • the Zimbabwe Programme for Economic and Social Transformation (ZIMPREST) that was intended to replace the ESAP in 1997 merely modified it, and thus did not redress the underlying causes of unemployment
  • economic sanctions following the government’s programme of agrarian reform have further worsened the situation.


Institute of Education, University of London, UK. Report Number 15, 45 pp.

Shifts in the livelihood structure of Zimbabwe following economic liberalisation.

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