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Are Searching and Non-searching Unemployment Distinct States when Unemployment is High? The Case of South Africa

  • Geeta Kingdon
  • John Knight

Broadly and narrowly measured unemployment rates differ very markedly in certain countries, and the measure chosen to be the ‘official’ unemployment rate affects perceptions about the extent of the problem. The appropriate measure of the unemployment rate depends on whether jobless persons who say they want work but who are not actively searching should be regarded as part of the labour force. This paper examines whether the non-searching-unemployed state is distinct from the searching-unemployed state in a developing country - South Africa - where the broad unemployment rate and the gap between the broad and narrow rates are both very high. It asks whether lack of job-search among jobless persons claiming to want work is an outcome of tastes or of constraints. It finds evidence in support of adopting the broad definition.

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Paper provided by University of Oxford, Department of Economics in its series Economics Series Working Papers with number WPS/2000-02.

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Date of creation: 01 Apr 2000
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:wps/2000-02
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  1. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald, 1995. "The Wage Curve," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 026202375x, June.
  2. Geeta G. Kingdon & John B. Knight, 1999. "Unemployment and wages in South Africa: A spatial approach," CSAE Working Paper Series 1999-12, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  3. Theodossiou, I., 1998. "The effects of low-pay and unemployment on psychological well-being: A logistic regression approach," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 85-104, January.
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  7. F. S. Barker, 1999. "On South African Labour Policies," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 67(1), pages 1-14, 03.
  8. Flinn, Christopher J & Heckman, James J, 1983. "Are Unemployment and Out of the Labor Force Behaviorally Distinct Labor Force States?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(1), pages 28-42, January.
  9. DiTella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert & Oswald, Andrew J., 1999. "The macroeconomics of happiness," ZEI Working Papers B 03-1999, ZEI - Center for European Integration Studies, University of Bonn.
  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. Kim B. Clark & Lawrence H. Summers, 1979. "Labor Market Dynamics and Unemployemnt: A Reconsideration," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 10(1), pages 13-72.
  12. Füsun Gönül, 1992. "New Evidence on Whether Unemployment and out of the Labor Force are Distinct States," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 27(2), pages 329-361.
  13. Goldsmith, Arthur H. & Veum, Jonathan R. & Darity, William Jr., 1995. "Are being unemployed and being out of the labor force distinct states?: A psychological approach," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 275-295, July.
  14. Clark, Andrew E & Oswald, Andrew J, 1994. "Unhappiness and Unemployment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(424), pages 648-59, May.
  15. Devine, Theresa J. & Kiefer, Nicolas M., 1991. "Empirical Labor Economics: The Search Approach," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195059366, July.
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