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Realising South Africa's Employment Potential

Listed author(s):
  • Geoff Barnard


Unemployment in South Africa is extremely high and unevenly distributed, being concentrated among young less-skilled blacks. The legacies of apartheid can explain part of the increase in labour supply and inability of the economy to absorb it which produced the extreme levels of unemployment, but more could have been done to unwind those legacies and other policies and institutions have contributed to the dysfunction of the labour market. Notably, improvements in product market regulation to strengthen competition could help expand formal sector employment. Changes in municipal laws and regulations to ease migration and facilitate informal employment are also likely to be particularly important. Improving the implementation of employment protection legislation could also help reduce unemployment. Efforts to tackle crime could help reduce the brain drain and attract skilled immigrants, which would likely boost demand for less-skilled workers via complementarities. Over the longer term, improvements in basic education will be key to reducing the excess supply of less-skilled workers. Concrétiser le potentiel de l'Afrique du Sud en matière d'emploi Le chômage en Afrique du Sud est extrêmement élevé et très inégalement réparti, étant concentré parmi les jeunes Noirs moins qualifiés. L’héritage de l’apartheid peut expliquer une partie de la hausse de l’offre de travail et l’incapacité de l’économie à l’absorber, ce qui a produit les niveaux extrêmes du chômage, mais on aurait pu faire plus pour contrer cet héritage, et d’autres politiques et institutions ont contribué au mauvais fonctionnement du marché du travail. Notamment, des améliorations de la réglementation du marché des produits afin de renforcer la concurrence pourraient aider à augmenter l’emploi dans le secteur formel. Des amendements des lois et règlements municipaux afin de faciliter la migration et l’emploi informel pourraient eux aussi aider à réduire le taux de chômage. L’amélioration de la mise en place de la législation de la protection de l’emploi pourrait également aider à réduire le chômage. Des efforts pour combattre la criminalité pourrait aider à diminuer la « fuite des cerveaux » et attirer des immigrants qualifiés, ce qui augmenterait probablement la demande des travailleurs moins qualifiés par le biais des complémentarités. À plus long terme, une amélioration de l’éducation de base sera déterminante pour la réduction de l’excédant des travailleurs moins qualifiés.

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Paper provided by OECD Publishing in its series OECD Economics Department Working Papers with number 662.

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Date of creation: 26 Jan 2009
Handle: RePEc:oec:ecoaaa:662-en
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