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Incomes in South Africa Since the Fall of Apartheid

  • Murray Leibbrandt
  • James Levinsohn
  • Justin McCrary

This paper examines changes in individual real incomes in South Africa between 1995 and 2000. We document substantial declines--on the order of 40%--in real incomes for both men and women. The brunt of the income decline appears to have been shouldered by the young and the non-white. We argue that changes in respondent attributes are insufficient to explain this decline. For most groups, a (conservative) correction for selection into income recipiency explains some, but not all, of the income decline. For other groups, selection is a potential explanation for the income decline. Perhaps the most persuasive explanation of the evidence is substantial economic restructuring of the South African economy in which wages are not bid up to keep pace with price changes due to a differentially slack labor market.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w11384.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11384.

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Date of creation: May 2005
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11384
Note: ITI LS
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  1. Angus Deaton, 2004. "Measuring poverty in a growing world (or measuring growth in a poor world)," Working Papers 178, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Research Program in Development Studies..
  2. Francois Bourguignon & Francisco H.G. Ferreira & Nora Lusting, 2005. "The Microeconomics of Income Distribution Dynamics in East Asia and Latin America," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 14844, September.
  3. Thomas Lemieux, 2002. "Decomposing changes in wage distributions: a unified approach," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 35(4), pages 646-688, November.
  4. H. Bhorat & J. Hodge, 1999. "Decomposing Shifts in Labour Demand in South Africa," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 67(3), pages 155-168, 09.
  5. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Melissa S. Kearney, 2005. "Trends in U. S. Wage Inequality: Re-Assessing the Revisionists," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2095, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  6. Case, A. & Deaton, A., 1996. "Large Cash Transfers to the Elderly in South Africa," Papers 176, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Development Studies.
  7. Juhn, Chinhui & Murphy, Kevin M & Pierce, Brooks, 1993. "Wage Inequality and the Rise in Returns to Skill," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 410-42, June.
  8. Angus Deaton, 2005. "ERRATUM: Measuring Poverty in a Growing World (or Measuring Growth in a Poor World)," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(2), pages 395-395, May.
  9. Cally Ardington & David Lam & Murray Leibbrandt & Matthew Welch, 2005. "The Sensitivity of Estimates of Post-Apartheid Changes in South African Poverty and Inequality to key Data Imputations," SALDRU/CSSR Working Papers 106, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.
  10. Deaton, A. & Paxson, C., 1997. "Economies of Scale, Household Size, and the Demand for Food," Papers 178, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Development Studies.
  11. Gronau, Reuben, 1974. "Wage Comparisons-A Selectivity Bias," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1119-43, Nov.-Dec..
  12. Newey, Whitney K. & McFadden, Daniel, 1986. "Large sample estimation and hypothesis testing," Handbook of Econometrics, in: R. F. Engle & D. McFadden (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 36, pages 2111-2245 Elsevier.
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