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How flexible are wages in response to local unemployment in South Africa?

  • Geeta Gandhi Kingdon
  • John Knight

It is commonly claimed that the South African labor market is unusually inflexible owing to the strength of the country's unions and the system of centralized collective bargaining. One sign of labor market inflexibility is low responsiveness of wages to local unemployment. Analyzing data from the South African Living Standards Survey, the authors find that the elasticity of wages with respect to local unemployment rates in South Africa in 1993 was about -0.1. The similarity of this elasticity to that found in other countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, is surprising given South Africa's national unemployment rate of over 30%. The wage curve elasticity persists over a much wider range of unemployment rates in South Africa than in OECD countries, implying that unemployment in South Africa can have a large impact on wages. (Free full-text download available at http://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/ilrreview/.)

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Article provided by ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School in its journal ILR Review.

Volume (Year): 59 (2006)
Issue (Month): 3 (April)
Pages: 471-495

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Handle: RePEc:ilr:articl:v:59:y:2006:i:3:p:471-495
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  1. David G. Blanchflower, 1997. "Changes Over Time in Union Relative Wage Effects in Great Britain and the United States," NBER Working Papers 6100, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  8. Moll, Peter G, 1996. "The Collapse of Primary Schooling Returns in South Africa 1960-90," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 58(1), pages 185-209, February.
  9. Moll, Peter, 1996. "Compulsory Centralization of Collective Bargaining in South Africa," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 326-29, May.
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  12. van der Meulen Rodgers, Yana & Nataraj, Sita, 1999. "Labor Market Flexibility in East Asia: Lessons from Taiwan," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 48(1), pages 51-69, October.
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