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Labor Supply Responses to Large Social Transfers: Longitudinal Evidence from South Africa

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  • Cally Ardington
  • Anne Case
  • Victoria Hosegood

Abstract

The South African old-age social pension has been much studied by both researchers and policy makers, in part for the larger lessons that might be learned about behavioral responses to cash transfers in developing countries. In this paper, we quantify the labor supply responses of prime-aged individuals to changes in the presence of old-age pensioners in their households, using longitudinal data recently collected in northern KwaZulu-Natal. Our ability to compare households and individuals before and after pension receipt, and pension loss, allows us to control for a host of unobservable household and individual characteristics that may determine labor market behavior. We find that large cash transfers to elderly South Africans lead to increased employment among prime-aged members of their households. Perhaps more importantly, pension receipt influences where this employment takes place. We find large, significant effects on labor migration among prime-aged members upon pension arrival. The pension's impact is attributable both to the increase in household resources it represents, which can be used to stake migrants until they become self-sufficient, and to the presence of pensioners who can care for small children, which allows prime-aged adults to look for work elsewhere.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13442.

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Date of creation: Sep 2007
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Publication status: published as Cally Ardington & Anne Case & Victoria Hosegood, 2009. "Labor Supply Responses to Large Social Transfers: Longitudinal Evidence from South Africa," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 22-48, January.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13442

Note: AG CH PE LS
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  1. Esther Duflo, 2000. "Grandmothers and Granddaughters: Old Age Pension and Intra-household Allocation in South Africa," NBER Working Papers 8061, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Eric Edmonds & Kristin Mammen & Douglas L. Miller, 2004. "Rearranging the Family? Income Support and Elderly Living Arrangements in a Low Income Country," NBER Working Papers 10306, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Posel, Dorrit & Fairburn, James A. & Lund, Frances, 2006. "Labour migration and households: A reconsideration of the effects of the social pension on labour supply in South Africa," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 23(5), pages 836-853, September.
  4. Marianne Bertrand & Sendhil Mullainathan & Douglas Miller, 2003. "Public Policy and Extended Families: Evidence from Pensions in South Africa," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 17(1), pages 27-50, June.
  5. Moffitt, Robert, 1992. "Incentive Effects of the U.S. Welfare System: A Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(1), pages 1-61, March.
  6. Victoria Hosegood & Anne Case & Cally Ardington, 2009. "Labor Supply Responses to Large Social Transfers: Longitudinal Evidence from South Africa," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 22-48, January.
  7. Atkinson, Anthony B & Micklewright, John, 1991. "Unemployment Compensation and Labor Market Transitions: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 29(4), pages 1679-1727, December.
  8. Klasen, Stephan & Woolard, Ingrid, 2000. "Surviving Unemployment without State Support: Unemployment and Household Formation in South Africa," IZA Discussion Papers 237, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Anne Case & Angus Deaton, 1996. "Large Cash Transfers to the Elderly in South Africa," NBER Working Papers 5572, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Phillippe G. Leite & Terry McKinley & Rafael Guerreiro Osório, 2006. "The Post-Apartheid Evolution of Earnings Inequality in South Africa, 1995-2004," Working Papers 32, International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth.
  11. 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.
  12. Marianne Bertrand & Douglas Miller & Sendhil Mullainathan, 1999. "Public Policy and Extended Families: Evidence from South Africa," Working Papers 801, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
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