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The Gender Wage Gap in the Post-apartheid South African Labour Market

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  • Haroon Bhorat
  • Sumayya Goga

    ()
    (Development Policy Research Unit
    Director and Professor)

Abstract

We estimate the gender wage gap for Africans in post-apartheid South Africa over the 2001 to 2007 period. Separate male and female earnings equations yields no significant decline in the conditional wage gap, regardless of whether we correct for selection into the labour force and employment or not. Notwithstanding this, the data appear to reveal a decline in the “explained” proportion of the gap with no significant change in the “unexplained” proportion of the gap. Nevertheless, the “unexplained” proportion or discrimination accounted for 71 percent of the gap in 2007 when using the uncorrected estimates (and the male wage structure as the non-discriminatory norm) thus highlighting the presence, arguably, of substantial discrimination against African women in the post-apartheid South African labour market. We note though that the assumption that the “unexplained” component accounts for discrimination has been criticized for a number of reasons, including the fact that women may self-select into certain types of jobs, the impact of gender-based pre-labour market factors as well as omitted variable bias. Finally, we find that using the either the male or pooled wage structure as the non-discriminatory wage structure provides similar results when undertaking the decomposition. In turn, using the female wage structure results in the harshest results as far as gender discrimination is concerned. Acknowledgements: The authors would like to thank Dorrit Posel for comments on earlier versions of this study.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Cape Town, Development Policy Research Unit in its series Working Papers with number 12148.

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Length: 29 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2012
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Working Paper Series by the Development Policy Research Unit, July 2012, pages 1-29
Handle: RePEc:ctw:wpaper:12148

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Keywords: Gender; Wage Gap; Discrimination; South Africa; Earnings;

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References

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  1. Simon Appleton, 1996. "The gender wage gap in three African countries," Economics Series Working Papers WPS/1996-07, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  2. Daniela Casale & Dorrit Posel, 2010. "The Male Marital Earnings Premium in the Context of Bride Wealth Payments: Evidence from South Africa," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 58(2), pages 211-230, 01.
  3. Rulof Burger & Derek Yu, 2007. "Wage Trends in Post-Apartheid South Africa: Constructing an Earnings Series from Household Survey Data," Working Papers 07117, University of Cape Town, Development Policy Research Unit.
  4. Heinze, Anja & Beninger, Denis & Beblo, Miriam & Laisney, François, 2003. "Measuring Selectivity-Corrected Gender Wage Gaps in the EU," ZEW Discussion Papers 03-74, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  5. Debra Shepherd, 2008. "Post-Apartheid Trends in Gender Discrimination in South Africa: Analysis through Decomposition Techniques," Working Papers 06/2008, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
  6. Daniela Casale & Colette Muller & Dorrit Posel, 2004. "'Two Million Net New Jobs': A Reconsideration Of The Rise In Employment In South Africa, 1995-2003," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 72(5), pages 978-1002, December.
  7. Weichselbaumer, Doris & Winter-Ebmer, Rudolf, 2003. "A Meta-Analysis of the International Gender Wage Gap," Economics Series 143, Institute for Advanced Studies.
  8. Oaxaca, Ronald, 1973. "Male-Female Wage Differentials in Urban Labor Markets," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 14(3), pages 693-709, October.
  9. Rulof Burger & Rachel Jafta, 2006. "Returns to Race: Labour Market Discrimination in Post-Apartheid South Africa," Working Papers 04/2006, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
  10. Mwabu, Germano & Schultz, T Paul, 1996. "Education Returns across Quantiles of the Wage Function: Alternative Explanations for Returns to Education by Race in South Africa," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 335-39, May.
  11. Ben Jann, 2008. "A Stata implementation of the Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition," ETH Zurich Sociology Working Papers 5, ETH Zurich, Chair of Sociology, revised 14 May 2008.
  12. Dorrit Posel & Daniela Casale, 2005. "Who replies in brackets and what are the implications for earnings estimates? An analysis of earnings data from South Africa," Working Papers 07, Economic Research Southern Africa.
  13. Doubell Chamberlain & Servaas van der Berg, 2002. "Earnings functions, labour market discrimination and quality of education in South Africa," Working Papers 02/2002, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
  14. Randall K. Filer, 1985. "Male-female wage differences: The importance of compensating differentials," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 38(3), pages 426-437, April.
  15. Colette Muller, 2009. "Trends in the gender wage gap and gender discrimination among part-time and full-time workers in post-apartheid South Africa," Working Papers 124, Economic Research Southern Africa.
  16. Paul Allanson & Jonathan Atkins, 2001. "Labour Market Reform and the Evolution of the Racial Wage Hierarchy in Post-Apartheid South Africa," Working Papers 01059, University of Cape Town, Development Policy Research Unit.
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