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Race and the Incidence of Unemployment in South Africa

  • Geeta Kingdon
  • John Knight

South Africa.s unemployment rate is one of the highest in the world, and it has important distributional implications. The paper examines the incidence of unemployment using two national household surveys for the mid-1990s. Both entry to unemployment and the duration of unemployment are examined. A probit model of the determinants of unemployment is estimated: it shows an important role for race, education, age, gender, home-ownership, location, and numerous other variables, all of which have plausible explanations. The large race gap in unemployment is explored further by means of a decomposition analysis akin to that normally used to analyse wage discrimination. There remains a substantial residual that cannot be explained by observed characteristics, and which might represent unobserved characteristics, such as quality of education, or discrimination. Implications for policy and for research are drawn.

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Paper provided by Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford in its series CSAE Working Paper Series with number 2001-18.

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Date of creation: 2001
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Handle: RePEc:csa:wpaper:2001-18
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  1. Knight, J B & McGrath, M D, 1977. "An Analysis of Racial Wage Discrimination in South Africa," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 39(4), pages 245-71, November.
  2. Stephen Nickell, 1979. "A Picture of Male Unemployment in Britain," Working Papers 503, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  3. Paul Frijters, 1998. "Hiring on the basis of expected productivity in a South African clothing firm," Discussion Papers Series 441, School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia.
  4. Hughes, Gordon & McCormick, Barry & McCormick, Barry, 1987. "Housing markets, unemployment and labour market flexibility in the UK," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 615-641, April.
  5. Blackaby, D. H. & Clark, K. & Leslie, D. G. & Murphy, P. D., 1994. "Black-white male earnings and employment prospects in the 1970s and 1980s evidence for Britain," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 273-279, November.
  6. Sandrine Rospabé, 2001. "Making Racial Wage Relations Fair in South Africa: A Focus on the Role of Trade Unions," Working Papers 01048, University of Cape Town, Development Policy Research Unit.
  7. Blackaby, D. H. & Leslie, D. G. & Murphy, P. D. & O'Leary, N. C., 1998. "The ethnic wage gap and employment differentials in the 1990s: Evidence for Britain," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 97-103, January.
  8. Gaute Erichsen & Jeremy Wakeford, 2001. "Racial Wage Discrimination in South Africa: Before and After the First Democratic Election," Working Papers 01049, University of Cape Town, Development Policy Research Unit.
  9. Blackaby, David, et al, 1999. "Unemployment among Britain's Ethnic Minorities," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 67(1), pages 1-20, January.
  10. Anne Case & Angus Deaton, 1999. "School Inputs And Educational Outcomes In South Africa," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(3), pages 1047-1084, August.
  11. Allanson, Paul & Atkins, Jonathan P & Hinks, Timothy, 2002. "No End to the Racial Wage Hierarchy in South Africa?," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 6(3), pages 442-59, October.
  12. Stephan Klasen & Ingrid Woolard, 1999. "Levels, trends and consistency of employment and unemployment figures in South Africa," Development Southern Africa, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(1), pages 3-35.
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