IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/ctw/wpaper/07123.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Sticking to the Facts: Official and Unofficial Stories about Poverty and Unemployment in South Africa

Author

Listed:
  • Charles Meth

    () (University of KwaZulu-Natal)

Abstract

Abstract: The major cause of poverty is unemployment. This paper looks at aspects of the way government responds to claims that are made, chiefly by academics, about poverty and unemployment. Official statistics on poverty and unemployment enjoy little favour among senior politicians and civil servants. ‘Unofficial’ poverty and unemployment statistics, by contrast, are seized upon with enthusiasm if they contradict the gloomy picture created by numbers that suggest (with monotonous regularity) that improvements in the lives of the poor are not happening fast enough. The first part of the paper explores possible explanations of government’s extreme sensitivity to criticism. The second part of the paper looks at an old chestnut, the repeated claim by government that the severity of the unemployment problem has (in part?) to do with the ‘fact’ that the number of economically active people has grown faster than the number of working age people. The third part of the paper looks briefly at the van der Berg et al (2005) poverty reduction estimates for the period 2000-2004 (they have the headcount falling from 18.5 to 15.4 million), before reproducing my estimates for the period 2001-2004 (the headcount falls from about 19.5 to somewhere in the region of 18 million. Suggestions are offered for the proper academic conduct upon releasing contentious results into a highly-charged political debate.

Suggested Citation

  • Charles Meth, 2007. "Sticking to the Facts: Official and Unofficial Stories about Poverty and Unemployment in South Africa," Working Papers 07123, University of Cape Town, Development Policy Research Unit.
  • Handle: RePEc:ctw:wpaper:07123
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.dpru.uct.ac.za/sites/default/files/image_tool/images/36/DPRU%20WP07-123.pdf
    File Function: First version, 2007
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Angus Deaton, 2005. "Measuring Poverty in a Growing World (or Measuring Growth in a Poor World)," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(1), pages 1-19, February.
    2. Charles Meth, 2004. "Half Measures: The ANC's Unemployment and Poverty Reduction Goals," Working Papers 04089, University of Cape Town, Development Policy Research Unit.
    3. Lal, Deepak & Myint, H., 1998. "The Political Economy of Poverty, Equity and Growth: A Comparative Study," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198294320.
    4. Rulof Burger & Derek Yu, 2006. "Wage trends in post-apartheid South Africa: Constructing an earnings series from household survey data," Working Papers 10/2006, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    5. Martin Ravallion, 2003. "Measuring Aggregate Welfare in Developing Countries: How Well Do National Accounts and Surveys Agree?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(3), pages 645-652, August.
    6. Kanbur, Ravi, 2004. "Growth, Inequality And Poverty: Some Hard Questions," Working Papers 127133, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Charles Meth, 2007. "Flogging a dead horse: Attempts by van der Berg et al to measure changes in poverty and inequality," SALDRU Working Papers 9, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.
    2. Frederick C.v.N. Fourie, 2011. "The South African unemployment debate: three worlds, three discourses?," SALDRU Working Papers 63, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    poverty; unemployment; South Africa; statistics;

    JEL classification:

    • A1 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ctw:wpaper:07123. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Waseema Petersen). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/dpuctza.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.