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Understanding South Africa's Economic Puzzles

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  • Rodrick, Dani

    (Harvard U)

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    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 from growth opportunities as well as from 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. [Jointly published as Center for International Development Working Paper No. 130 and KSG Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP06-039.]

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    Paper provided by Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government in its series Working Paper Series with number rwp06-039.

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    Date of creation: Sep 2006
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    Handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp06-039

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    1. Geeta Kingdon & John Knight, 2001. "Unemployment in South Africa: the nature of the beast," Economics Series Working Papers WPS/2001-15, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    2. 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.
    3. Stan du Plessis & Ben Smit, 2006. "Economic growth in South Africa since 1994," Working Papers 01/2006, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. Hausmann, Ricardo & Rodrik, Dani, 2003. "Economic development as self-discovery," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 603-633, December.
    7. 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.
    8. Hausmann, Ricardo & Hwang, Jason & Rodrik, Dani, 2005. "What You Export Matters," Working Paper Series rwp05-063, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    9. Marianne Bertrand & Douglas Miller & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2000. "Public Policy and Extended Families: Evidence from South Africa," NBER Working Papers 7594, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Murray Leibbrandt & James Levinsohn & Justin McCrary, 2005. "Incomes in South Africa Since the Fall of Apartheid," NBER Working Papers 11384, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:
    1. Philippe Aghion & Johannes Fedderke & Peter Howitt & Chandana Kularatne & Nicola Viegi, 2008. "Testing Creative Destruction in an Opening Economy: the Case of the South African Manufacturing Industries," Working Papers 93, Economic Research Southern Africa.
    2. 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).

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