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Why Has Unemployment Risen in the New South Africa

  • Abhijit Banerjee
  • Sebastian Galiani
  • Jim Levinsohn
  • Zoë McLaren
  • Ingrid Woolard

We document the rise in unemployment in South Africa since the transition in 1994. We describe the likely causes of this increase and analyze whether the increase in unemployment is due to structural changes in the economy (resulting in a new equilibrium unemployment rate) or to negative shocks (that temporarily have increased unemployment). We conclude the former are more important. Our analysis includes a multinomial logit approach to understanding transitions in individual-level changes in labor market status using the first nationally representative panel in South Africa. Our analysis highlights several key constraints to addressing unemployment in South Africa.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w13167.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13167.

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Date of creation: Jun 2007
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Publication status: published as Abhijit Banerjee & Sebastian Galiani & Jim Levinsohn & Zoë McLaren & Ingrid Woolard, 2008. "Why has unemployment risen in the New South Africa?," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 16(4), pages 715-740, October.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13167
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  1. T. Paul Schultz & Germano Mwabu, 1997. "Labor Unions and the Distribution of Wages and Employment in South Africa," Working Papers 776, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  2. Lawrence F. Katz & Kevin M. Murphy, 1991. "Changes in Relative Wages, 1963-1987: Supply and Demand Factors," NBER Working Papers 3927, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Geeta Kingdon & John Knight, 2001. "Unemployment in South Africa: the nature of the beast," Economics Series Working Papers WPS/2001-15, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  4. Vimal Ranchhod, 2009. "Household responses to adverse income shocks: Pensioner out-migration and mortality in South Africa," SALDRU Working Papers 35, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.
  5. Marianne Bertrand & Sendhil Mullainathan & Douglas Miller, 2003. "Public Policy and Extended Families: Evidence from Pensions in South Africa," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 17(1), pages 27-50, June.
  6. Kristin F. Butcher & Cecilia Elena Rouse, 2001. "Wage Effects of Unions and Industrial Councils in South Africa," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 54(2), pages 349-374, January.
  7. H. Bhorat, 1999. "The October Household Survey, Unemployment and the Informal Sector: A Note," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 67(2), pages 143-146, 06.
  8. Rulof Burger & Derek Yu, 2007. "Wage Trends in Post-Apartheid South Africa: Constructing an Earnings Series from Household Survey Data," Working Papers 07117, University of Cape Town, Development Policy Research Unit.
  9. P. G. Moll, 1993. "Black South African Unions: Relative Wage Effects in International Perspective," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 46(2), pages 245-261, January.
  10. Stephan Klasen & Ingrid Woolard, 1999. "Levels, trends and consistency of employment and unemployment figures in South Africa," Development Southern Africa, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(1), pages 3-35.
  11. Murray Leibbrandt & James Levinsohn & Justin McCrary, 2005. "Incomes in South Africa since the fall of Apartheid," Working Papers 536, Research Seminar in International Economics, University of Michigan.
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