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Understanding South Africa's economic puzzles

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  • Dani Rodrik

Abstract

South Africa has undergone a remarkable transformation since its democratic transition in 1994, but economic growth and employment generation have been disappointing. Most worryingly, unemployment is currently among the highest in the world. While the proximate cause of high unemployment is that prevailing wages levels are too high, the deeper cause lies elsewhere, and is intimately connected to the inability of the South African to generate much growth momentum in the past decade. High unemployment and low growth are both ultimately the result of the shrinkage of the non-mineral tradable sector since the early-1990s. The weakness in particular of export-oriented manufacturing has deprived South Africa of growth opportunities as well as of job creation at the relatively low end of the skill distribution. Econometric analysis identifies the decline in the relative profitability of manufacturing in the 1990s as the most important contributor to the lack of vitality in that sector. Copyright (c) 2008 The Authors. Journal compilation (c) 2008 The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in its journal Economics of Transition.

Volume (Year): 16 (2008)
Issue (Month): 4 (October)
Pages: 769-797

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Handle: RePEc:bla:etrans:v:16:y:2008:i:4:p:769-797

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References

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  1. Geeta Kingdon & John Knight, 2004. "Unemployment in South Africa: the nature of the beast," Labor and Demography 0409003, EconWPA.
  2. Lawrence Edwards & Robert Lawrence, 2008. "South African trade policy matters," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 16(4), pages 585-608, October.
  3. Hausmann, Ricardo & Rodrik, Dani, 2002. "Economic Development as Self Discovery," CEPR Discussion Papers 3356, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why Do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output per Worker than Others?," NBER Working Papers 6564, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Hausmann, Ricardo & Hwang, Jason & Rodrik, Dani, 2006. "What You Export Matters," CEPR Discussion Papers 5444, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Lawrence Edwards & Robert Z. Lawrence, 2006. "South African Trade Policy Matters: Trade Performance and Trade Policy," NBER Working Papers 12760, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Murray Leibbrandt & James Levinsohn & Justin McCrary, 2005. "Incomes in South Africa since the fall of Apartheid," Working Papers 536, Research Seminar in International Economics, University of Michigan.
  8. Robert Pollin & Gerald Epstein & James Heintz & Léonce Ndikumana, 2006. "An Employment-targeted Economic Programme for South Africa," Country Study 1, International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth.
  9. Rodrik, Dani, 2004. "Industrial Policy for the Twenty-First Century," CEPR Discussion Papers 4767, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Abhijit Banerjee & Sebastian Galiani & Jim Levinsohn & Zo� McLaren & Ingrid Woolard, 2008. "Why has unemployment risen in the New South Africa?," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 16(4), pages 715-740, October.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Tsangyao Chang & Beatrice D. Simo-Kengne & Rangan Gupta, 2013. "The Causal Relationship between Imports and Economic Growth in the Nine Provinces of South Africa: Evidence from Panel-Granger Causality Tests," Working Papers 201320, University of Pretoria, Department of Economics.
  2. Pauw, Karl & Leibbrandt, Murray, 2012. "Minimum Wages and Household Poverty: General Equilibrium Macro–Micro Simulations for South Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(4), pages 771-783.
  3. Rattsø, Jørn & Stokke, Hildegunn E., 2012. "Trade policy in a growth model with technology gap dynamics and simulations for South Africa," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 36(7), pages 1042-1056.
  4. Isaacs, Gilad, 2014. "The myth of “neutrality” and the rhetoric of “stability”: macroeconomic policy in democratic South Africa," MPRA Paper 54426, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  5. Go, Delfin S. & Kearney, Marna & Korman, Vijdan & Robinson, Sherman & Thierfelder, Karen, 2009. "Wage subsidy and labor market flexibility in south Africa," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4871, The World Bank.
  6. Alice Fabre & Stéphane Pallage, 2013. "Child Labor, Idiosyncratic Shocks, and Social Policy," Working Papers halshs-00913666, HAL.
  7. Kucera, David & Roncolato, Leanne & von Uexkull, Erik, 2010. "Trade contraction in the global crisis : employment and inequality effects in India and South Africa," ILO Working Papers 459401, International Labour Organization.
  8. Asjaha, T.A. & Jooste, Andre, 2007. "The Effect of Monetary Changes on Relative Agricultural Prices," Agrekon, Agricultural Economics Association of South Africa (AEASA), vol. 46(4), December.
  9. Rudrani Bhattacharya & Ila Patnaik, 2013. "Credit Constraints, Productivity Shocks and Consumption Volatility in Emerging Economies," IMF Working Papers 13/120, International Monetary Fund.
  10. Ronald Ravinesh Kumar & Radika Kumar, 2012. "Exploring sectoral elasticity vis-�-vis per worker income with a focus to agriculture: a study of Sub-Saharan Africa," African Journal of Economic and Sustainable Development, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 1(1), pages 27-48.
  11. Makino, Kumiko, 2008. "The Changing Nature of Employment and the Reform of Labor and Social Security Legislation in Post-Apartheid South Africa," IDE Discussion Papers 140, Institute of Developing Economies, Japan External Trade Organization(JETRO).
  12. Kucera, David & Roncolato, Leanne & von Uexkull, Erik, 2012. "Trade Contraction and Employment in India and South Africa during the Global Crisis," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(6), pages 1122-1134.
  13. Bhattacharya, Rudrani & Patnaik, Ila, 2013. "Credit constraints, productivity shocks and consumption volatility in emerging economies," Working Papers 13/121, National Institute of Public Finance and Policy.

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