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South Africa's economics of education: A stocktaking and an agenda for the way forward


  • Martin Gustafsson
  • Thabo Mabogoane


This paper reviews some of the existing economics of education literature from the perspective of South Africa's education policymaking needs. It also puts forward a suggested research agenda for future work. The review is arranged according to five areas of research: rates of return, production functions, teacher incentives, benefit incidence analysis and cross-country comparisons. Production functions, especially if translated to cost-effectiveness models, can point to important policy solutions. Teacher incentives is a policy area that is in need of a better theoretical and empirical basis. Rates of return are difficult for policymakers to interpret, but suggest a need for a qualification below the Grade 12 level. While benefit incidence analysis can demonstrate large improvements in the equity of public financing, cross-country comparisons reveal that not only is the distribution of schooling outcomes particularly unequal, on average it is well below what the country's level of development would predict.

Suggested Citation

  • Martin Gustafsson & Thabo Mabogoane, 2012. "South Africa's economics of education: A stocktaking and an agenda for the way forward," Development Southern Africa, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 29(3), pages 351-364, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:deveza:v:29:y:2012:i:3:p:351-364
    DOI: 10.1080/0376835X.2012.706033

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    Cited by:

    1. Fabrice Murtin & Thomas Laurent & Geoff Barnard & Dean Janse van Rensburg & Vijay Reddy & George Frempong & Lolita Winnaar, 2015. "Policy Determinants of School Outcomes under Model Uncertainty: Evidence from South Africa," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 83(3), pages 317-334, September.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy


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