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Labor supply responses to large social transfers: Longitudinal evidence from South Africa

Author

Listed:
  • Cally Ardington

    (University of Cape Town)

  • Anne Case

    (Princeton University and NBER)

  • Victoria Hosegood

    (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine)

Abstract

The South African old-age social pension has been much studied by both researchers and policy makers, in part for the larger lessons that might be learned about behavioral responses to cash transfers in developing countries. In this paper, we quantify the labor supply responses of prime-aged individuals to changes in the presence of old-age pensioners in their households, using longitudinal data recently collected in northern KwaZulu-Natal. Our ability to compare households and individuals before and after pension receipt, and pension loss, allows us to control for a host of unobservable household and individual characteristics that may determine labor market behavior. We find that large cash transfers to elderly South Africans lead to increased employment among prime-aged members of their households. Perhaps more importantly, pension receipt influences where this employment takes place. We find large, significant effects on labor migration among prime-aged members upon pension arrival. The pension's impact is attributable both to the increase in household resources it represents, which can be used to stake migrants until they become self-sufficient, and to the presence of pensioners who can care for small children, which allows prime-aged adults to look for work elsewhere.

Suggested Citation

  • Cally Ardington & Anne Case & Victoria Hosegood, 2007. "Labor supply responses to large social transfers: Longitudinal evidence from South Africa," Working Papers 1003, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Research Program in Development Studies..
  • Handle: RePEc:pri:rpdevs:case_ardington_hosegood_nber_w13442_oct07.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Moffitt, Robert, 1992. "Incentive Effects of the U.S. Welfare System: A Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(1), pages 1-61, March.
    2. Esther Duflo, 2003. "Grandmothers and Granddaughters: Old-Age Pensions and Intrahousehold Allocation in South Africa," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 17(1), pages 1-25, June.
    3. Victoria Hosegood & Anne Case & Cally Ardington, 2009. "Labor Supply Responses to Large Social Transfers: Longitudinal Evidence from South Africa," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 22-48, January.
    4. Case, Anne & Deaton, Angus, 1998. "Large Cash Transfers to the Elderly in South Africa," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(450), pages 1330-1361, September.
    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. Eric V. Edmonds & Kristin Mammen & Douglas L. Miller, 2005. "Rearranging the Family?: Income Support and Elderly Living Arrangements in a Low-Income Country," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(1).
    7. Phillippe G. Leite & Terry McKinley & Rafael Guerreiro Osório, 2006. "The Post-Apartheid Evolution of Earnings Inequality in South Africa, 1995-2004," Working Papers 32, International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth.
    8. Stephan Klasen & Ingrid Woolard, 2009. "Surviving Unemployment Without State Support: Unemployment and Household Formation in South Africa," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 18(1), pages 1-51, January.
    9. Atkinson, Anthony B & Micklewright, John, 1991. "Unemployment Compensation and Labor Market Transitions: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 29(4), pages 1679-1727, December.
    10. Doubell Chamberlain & Servaas van der Berg, 2002. "Earnings functions, labour market discrimination and quality of education in South Africa," Working Papers 02/2002, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    11. Posel, Dorrit & Fairburn, James A. & Lund, Frances, 2006. "Labour migration and households: A reconsideration of the effects of the social pension on labour supply in South Africa," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 23(5), pages 836-853, September.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    South Africa;

    JEL classification:

    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
    • J20 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - General
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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