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Education and Inequality: The South African Case

Author

Listed:
  • Nicola Branson

    (SALDRU, School of Economics, University of Cape Town)

  • Julia Garlick
  • David Lam
  • Murray Leibbrandt

    (SALDRU, School of Economics, University of Cape Town)

Abstract

Following the international literature, income inequality decompositions on data from contemporary South Africa show that the labour market is the key driver of overall household inequality. In order to understand one of the channels driving this labour market inequality, we use national household survey data to review changing returns to education in the South African labour market over the last 15 years; with a focus on both the returns to getting employment as well as the earnings returns for those that have employment. We show that South Africa has experienced a skills twist with the returns to matric and post-secondary education rising and the returns to levels of education below this remaining constant. Then, based on a regression based decomposition of earnings inequality, we show how this has impacted earnings inequality. Indeed, the increase in returns to post-secondary education has directly counteracted the equalising gains that have been made by increased educational attainment, resulting in consistent levels of inequality over time.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:ldr:wpaper:75
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Nicola Branson & Clare Hofmeyr & David Lam, 2014. "Progress through school and the determinants of school dropout in South Africa," Development Southern Africa, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 31(1), pages 106-126, January.
    2. Mussa, Richard, 2017. "Early-Life Rainfall Shocks and Intergenerational Education Mobility in Malawi," MPRA Paper 75978, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Magejo, Prudence & Benhura, Miracle, 2015. "A Detailed Decomposition Analysis of the Public-Private Sector Wage Gap in South Africa," IZA Discussion Papers 9271, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Cosser, Dr Michael, 2018. "Differential pathways of South African students through higher education," International Journal of Educational Development, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 100-109.
    5. Miracle Ntuli & Prudence Kwenda, 2013. "Labour Unions and Wage Inequality Among African Men in South Africa," Working Papers 13159, University of Cape Town, Development Policy Research Unit.
    6. Magejo, Prudence & Benhura, Miracle & Gwatidzo, Tendai, 2014. "Trends in the Intergenerational Transmission of Education among Black South Africans," IZA Discussion Papers 8546, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    7. Stephen Taylor & Patricia Watson, 2015. "The impact of study guides on “matric” performance: Evidence from a randomised experiment," Working Papers 13/2015, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    8. Shifa, Muna & Leibbrandt, Murray, 2021. "Spatial Inequality in Sub-Saharan Africa," EconStor Preprints 244591, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics.
    9. Marisa Coetzee, 2014. "School quality and the performance of disadvantaged learners in South Africa," Working Papers 22/2014, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.

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