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Has trade liberalization in South Africa affected men and women differently?:

  • Thurlow, James

"Trade liberalization is a central part of South Africa's post-Apartheid development strategy. However, despite considerable reforms, the country has failed to generate pro-poor growth, with both unemployment and inequality worsening over the last ten years. This has raised concern that trade liberalization may have worked against the country's development objectives. This study uses a dynamic general equilibrium and microsimulation model to assess the effects of trade liberalization on growth, employment and poverty in South Africa. More specifically, it examines how men and women have been affected differently and whether liberalization has contributed to the faster rise in female unemployment and poverty. The results suggest that trade policies have not contributed to increased poverty and that trade-induced technological change has accelerated growth. However, liberalization has changed the sectoral structure of production and has exacerbated income inequality. While male and female workers have benefited from trade-induced growth, it is male-headed households who have benefited more from rising factor incomes. Trade reforms have however contributed to the observed decline in the gender wage gap, but this has been driven by rising employment amongst higher-skilled female workers. As such, the decline in poverty amongst female-headed households has remained small. While further liberalization may increase growth and reduce poverty, it is men and male-headed households who are more likely to benefit. These findings suggest that, while there is no trade-off between trade reform and poverty reduction, the country should not rely on further liberalization to generate pro-poor growth or address the prevailing inequalities between different population groups, such as men and women." Author's Abstract

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Paper provided by International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in its series DSGD discussion papers with number 36.

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Date of creation: 2006
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Handle: RePEc:fpr:dsgddp:36
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  1. Johannes Fedderke & Yongcheol Shin, 2003. "Trade, Technology and Wage Inequality in the South African Manufacturing Sectors," ESE Discussion Papers 106, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
  2. Ozler, Berk, 2007. "Not Separate, Not Equal: Poverty and Inequality in Post-apartheid South Africa," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 55(3), pages 487-529, April.
  3. Fontana, Marzia & Wood, Adrian, 2000. "Modeling the Effects of Trade on Women, at Work and at Home," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 28(7), pages 1173-1190, July.
  4. Vivek B. Arora & Ashok Bhundia, 2003. "Potential Output and total Factor Productivity Growth in Post-Apartheid South Africa," IMF Working Papers 03/178, International Monetary Fund.
  5. Löfgren, Hans & Harris, Rebecca Lee & Robinson, Sherman, 2001. "A standard computable general equilibrium (CGE) model in GAMS," TMD discussion papers 75, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  6. Edwards, Lawrence & Golub, Stephen S., 2004. "South Africa's International Cost Competitiveness and Exports in Manufacturing," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(8), pages 1323-1339, August.
  7. Arvind Subramanian & Gunnar Jonsson, 2000. "Dynamic Gains From Trade; Evidence From South Africa," IMF Working Papers 00/45, International Monetary Fund.
  8. Stephen S. Golub & Janet Ceglowski, 2002. "South African Real Exchange Rates And Manufacturing Competitiveness," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 70(6), pages 1047-1075, 09.
  9. Torfinn Harding & Jørn Rattsø, 2005. "The barrier model of productivity growth: South Africa," Discussion Papers 425, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
  10. L. Alan Winters & Neil McCulloch & Andrew McKay, 2004. "Trade Liberalization and Poverty: The Evidence So Far," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(1), pages 72-115, March.
  11. Ingrid Woolard & Murray Leibbrandt, 1999. "Measuring Poverty in South Africa," Working Papers 99033, University of Cape Town, Development Policy Research Unit.
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