IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Earnings functions, labour market discrimination and quality of education in South Africa

  • Doubell Chamberlain


    (Genesis Analytics)

  • Servaas van der Berg


    (Department of Economics, Stellenbosch University)

Education is a key determinant of earnings, as several South African studies have confirmed. Years of schooling completed, however, provides an imperfect approximation of the effective level of education achieved, mainly due to variations in the quality of education received. This study addresses this issue by, for the first time in South Africa, incorporating quality of education in the modelling of earnings. Differences in quality of education are viewed as a form of pre-labour market discrimination. By decomposing the wage gap before and after controlling for educational quality, more accurate estimates of the true levels of labour market discrimination are obtained. The main hypothesis tested is that controlling for quality will reduce the component of the wage gap ascribed to labour market discrimination. The results show a systematic decrease in the labour market discrimination component with increased adjustments for quality of education. Almost half of the previous labour market discrimination can be explained by differences in quality, yet the proportion of racial wage differentials ascribed to labour market discrimination is still found to be significant. The clear implication is that current estimates of labour market discrimination are exaggerated and a more careful analysis of earnings is required to re-assess the levels of discrimination in the South African labour market.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
File Function: First version, 2002
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 02/2002.

in new window

Date of creation: 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:sza:wpaper:wpapers2
Contact details of provider: Postal: Private Bag X1, 7602 Matieland
Phone: 021-8082247
Fax: +27 (0)21-808 2409
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Oaxaca, Ronald, 1973. "Male-Female Wage Differentials in Urban Labor Markets," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 14(3), pages 693-709, October.
  2. Johnson, George E & Stafford, Frank P, 1996. "On the Rate of Return to Schooling Quality," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(4), pages 686-91, November.
  3. Julian F. Hofmeyr & Robert E. B. Lucas, 1998. "The Rise in Union Wage Premia in South Africa," Boston University - Institute for Economic Development 83, Boston University, Institute for Economic Development.
  4. Oaxaca, Ronald L. & Ransom, Michael R., 1994. "On discrimination and the decomposition of wage differentials," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 5-21, March.
  5. Murray Leibbrandt & Haroon Bhorat, 1999. "Correlates of Vulnerability in the South African Labour Market," Working Papers 99027, University of Cape Town, Development Policy Research Unit.
  6. Murray Leibbrandt & Haroon Bhorat, 1999. "Modelling Vulnerability and Low Earnings in the South African Labour Market," Working Papers 99032, University of Cape Town, Development Policy Research Unit.
  7. Mwabu, Germano & Schultz, T Paul, 1996. "Education Returns across Quantiles of the Wage Function: Alternative Explanations for Returns to Education by Race in South Africa," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 335-39, May.
  8. Lee, Jong-Wha & Barro, Robert J, 2001. "Schooling Quality in a Cross-Section of Countries," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 68(272), pages 465-88, November.
  9. Heckman, James J, 1979. "Sample Selection Bias as a Specification Error," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(1), pages 153-61, January.
  10. Behrman, Jere R & Birdsall, Nancy, 1983. "The Quality of Schooling: Quantity Alone is Misleading," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(5), pages 928-46, December.
  11. Servaas van der Berg & Louise Wood & Neil le Roux, 2002. "Differentiation in black education," Development Southern Africa, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(2), pages 289-306.
  12. Heckman, James & Layne-Farrar, Anne & Todd, Petra, 1996. "Human Capital Pricing Equations with an Application to Estimating the Effect of Schooling Quality on Earnings," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(4), pages 562-610, November.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:sza:wpaper:wpapers2. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Melt van Schoor)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.