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The Post-Apartheid Evolution of Earnings Inequality in South Africa, 1995-2004

Author

Listed:
  • Phillippe G. Leite

    () (World Bank Research Department and Previous Research and Consultant for the International Poverty Centre, UNDP)

  • Terry McKinley

    () (International Poverty Centre)

  • Rafael Guerreiro Osório

    () (International Poverty Centre)

Abstract

This paper examines the trend in post-Apartheid earnings inequality in South Africa. By combining data sets, the paper is able to analyze the trend for the whole period 1995-2004. Earnings inequality rose sharply during 1995-1999 and then declined marginally, but remained high, during 2000-2004. A dramatic rise in unemployment was the driving force in exacerbating earnings inequality in the 1990s. Unemployment began to level off in the 2000s but remained at a high rate. An unprecedented influx of new entrants into the formal labour market in the 1990s put downward pressure on average real wages, affecting workers both in the middle of the distribution and toward the bottom. The growth of the South African economy has been neither rapid enough nor employment-intensive enough to absorb such a large influx of workers. Moreover, the economy?s greater openness to trade and financial flows appears to have left many workers behind, especially Africans, workers in low-skilled occupations, residents of rural areas in general and poor regions in particular. Earnings inequality remains high across groupings of workers differentiated by race, education and occupation although occupation has become a more important factor than the other two in the 2000s. Differentials across the mean earnings of workers classified by rural and urban residence and by province have also intensified. In the 1990s, inequalities within groupings of worker rose sharply and then moderated by the 2000s. While earnings differentials by race and the rural-urban divide also exacerbated inequality in the 1990s, they have been in modest decline since then. These changes in the dynamics of earnings inequality between the 1990s and 2000s pose new challenges for South African policymakers in their efforts to substantially reduce the Apartheid legacy of high inequality and poverty.

Suggested Citation

  • Phillippe G. Leite & Terry McKinley & Rafael Guerreiro Osório, 2006. "The Post-Apartheid Evolution of Earnings Inequality in South Africa, 1995-2004," Working Papers 32, International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth.
  • Handle: RePEc:ipc:wpaper:32
    as

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    File URL: http://www.ipc-undp.org/pub/IPCWorkingPaper32.pdf
    File Function: First version, 2006
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Tregenna, F., 2009. "The Relationship Between Unemployment and Earnings Inequality in South Africa," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0907, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    2. Victoria Hosegood & Anne Case & Cally Ardington, 2009. "Labor Supply Responses to Large Social Transfers: Longitudinal Evidence from South Africa," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 22-48, January.
    3. Kwenda, Prudence & Benhura, Miracle, 2015. "A Detailed Decomposition Analysis of the Public-Private Sector Wage Gap in South Africa," IZA Discussion Papers 9271, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Bandopadhyay, Titas Kumar, 2014. "Economic Reforms, Frictional Unemployment and Wage Inequality-----A General Equilibrium Analysis," MPRA Paper 59819, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Nicola Branson & Julia Garlick & David Lam & Murray Leibbrandt, 2012. "Education and Inequality: The South African Case," SALDRU Working Papers 75, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.
    6. Dorothee Crayen & Christa Hainz & Christiane Stöh de MartÍnez, 2013. "Remittances, Banking Status and the Usage of Insurance Schemes," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 49(6), pages 861-875, June.
    7. Claire Vermaak, 2012. "Tracking poverty with coarse data: evidence from South Africa," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 10(2), pages 239-265, June.
    8. Chaudhuri, Sarbajit & Bandopadhyay, Titas Kumar, 2013. "Job-search and foreign capital inflow — A three-sector general equilibrium analysis," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 159-169.
    9. Chaudhuri, Sarbajit & Mukhopadhyay, Ujjaini, 2009. "Revisiting the Informal Sector: A General Equilibrium Approach," MPRA Paper 52135, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    South Africa; Income distribution; Earnings distribution; Inequality;

    JEL classification:

    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • N36 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Latin America; Caribbean
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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