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The Effects of Teacher Strike Activity on Student Learning in South African Primary Schools


  • Gabrielle Wills

    () (Department of Economics, University of Stellenbosch)


This paper investigates whether teacher strikes affect student achievement at the primary school level in South Africa. A cross-subject analysis with student fixed effects is used to eliminate sources of endogeneity bias at the school and student level. Results indicate that teacher strike participation negatively affects learning for students in the poorest three quarters of schools in South Africa. A negative effect size as large as ten per cent of a standard deviation is observed. There is also evidence that more marginalised students, both in terms of socio-economic status and academic performance, are affected most negatively by strike action. However, application of a technique by Altonji, Taber and Elder (2005) indicates that it is not possible to rule out that measured strike effects may be driven by omitted variable bias. The student fixed effects strategy fails to adequately control for unobserved teacher characteristics that may influence both a teacher’s decision to strike and student achievement.

Suggested Citation

  • Gabrielle Wills, 2014. "The Effects of Teacher Strike Activity on Student Learning in South African Primary Schools," Working Papers 01/2014, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:sza:wpaper:wpapers206

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Wills, Gabrielle, 2016. "Principal leadership changes and their consequences for school performance in South Africa," International Journal of Educational Development, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 108-124.
    2. Paula Armstrong, 2014. "The impact of teacher characteristics on student performance: An analysis using hierarchical linear modelling," Working Papers 25/2014, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.

    More about this item


    teachers; strikes; trade unions; student achievement; South Africa;

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • J51 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Trade Unions: Objectives, Structure, and Effects
    • J52 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Dispute Resolution: Strikes, Arbitration, and Mediation
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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