In 2015, Afrobarometer respondents (citizens age 18 or older) were asked to list the “most important problems facing the country that the government should address”. With a sample size of 2400, we can infer to the population with a margin of error of +/- 2% and a confidence level of 95%.

In Mozambique, the three most common responses were ‘health’, ‘unemployment’, and ‘education’. More than two thirds mentioned at least one of the three. 41% mentioned at least two. 4% mentioned all three.

Notably, 28% mentioned unemployment as their first response. By comparison, only 7% mentionet health as their first response, while 10% mentioned education. In other words, for almost one third of the population, unemployment was the most important problem facing the country in 2015.

We analysed the data using multivariate regression models. The analysis produced several findings. Below, we limit ourselves to the most robust.

First, women were more likely then men to mention health. We attribute this to the role that women play in Mozambican society as the primary caregivers.

Second, younger people and people in the urban centres were more likely to mention unemployment. This also is not surprising. Presumably, older people and people in the rural areas are less concerned with finding a job.

Third, educated people were more likely to mention education. While it could be argued that educated people know the true value of education, we believe this should be attributed to self-interests: doctors want hospitals, soldiers want guns, and students want schools.

Finally, people without cash income were more likely to mention education and less likely to mention unemployment. One explanation could be that they consider education as a first step towards cash income and employment only as a second step.

Perhaps the most interesting finding is that the responses vary significantly across provinces. People outside of Maputo City were more likely to mention unemployment. This holds for Cabo Delgado, Gaza, Inhambane, Manica, Maputo Province, Nampula, and Sofala. Similarly, people outside of Maputo City were less likely to mention health, although this holds only for Inhambane, Maputo Province, and Zambezia. The maps below illustrate the variations.

(a) Health (first response)

(b) Health (one of three responses)

(c) Unemployment (first response)

(d) Unemployment (one of three responses)

(e) Education (first response)

(e) Education (one of three responses)

The finding should be interpreted cautiously. Although we control for several potential confounders, we do not know for sure why public perceptions vary so much across provinces. One explanation could be that while the government has been relatively successful in providing public services throughout the country, employment opportunities are still concentrated in and around the capital.

For further information, including access to data and regression results, please contact Halfdan Lynge-Mangueira at hlm@sauti.net.