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Educational attainment and intergenerational social mobility in South Africa

  • Megan Louw


    (Department of Economics, Stellenbosch University)

  • Servaas van der Berg


    (Department of Economics, Stellenbosch University)

  • Derek Yu


    (Department of Economics, Stellenbosch University)

To a large degree, the notoriously high levels of income inequality in South Africa have their roots in differential access to wage-earning opportunities in the labour market, which in turn are influenced by family background. This paper therefore investigates the role that parents’ education plays in children’s human capital accumulation. The study analyses patterns of educational attainment in South Africa during the period 1970-2001, asking whether intergenerational social mobility has improved. It tackles the issue in two ways, combining extensive descriptive analysis of progress in educational attainment with more a formal evaluation of intergenerational social mobility using indices constructed by Dahan and Gaviria (2001) and Behrman, Birdsall and Szekely (1998). Both types of analysis indicate that intergenerational social mobility within race groups improved over the period, with the indices suggesting that South African children are currently better able to take advantage of educational opportunities than the bulk of their peers in comparable countries. However, significant racial barriers remain in the quest to equalise educational opportunities across the board for South African children.

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Paper provided by Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 09/2006.

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Date of creation: 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:sza:wpaper:wpapers23
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  1. Anne Case & Angus Deaton, 1999. "School Inputs And Educational Outcomes In South Africa," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(3), pages 1047-1084, August.
  2. Eric V. Edmonds, 2004. "Does Illiquidity Alter Child Labor and Schooling Decisions? Evidence from Household Responses to Anticipated Cash Transfers in South Africa," NBER Working Papers 10265, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Ranjan Ray, 2000. "Poverty and expenditure pattern of households in Pakistan and South Africa: a comparative study," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(2), pages 241-256.
  4. Case, A. & Deaton, A., 1996. "Large Cash Transfers to the Elderly in South Africa," Papers 176, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Development Studies.
  5. Thomas, D., 1996. "Education Across Generations in South Africa," Papers 96-16, RAND - Reprint Series.
  6. François Bourguignon & Francisco H. G. Ferreira & Marta Menendez, 2003. "Inequality of outcomes and inequality of opportunities in Brazil," Textos para discussão 478, Department of Economics PUC-Rio (Brazil).
  7. Jere R. Behrman & Nancy Birdsall & Miguel Székely, 1998. "Intergenerational Schooling Mobility and Macro Conditions and Schooling Policies in Latin America," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 6446, Inter-American Development Bank.
  8. Dahan, Momi & Gaviria, Alejandro, 2001. "Sibling Correlations and Intergenerational Mobility in Latin America," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 49(3), pages 537-54, April.
  9. Jere R. Behrman & Mark R. Rosenzweig, 2002. "Does Increasing Women's Schooling Raise the Schooling of the Next Generation?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 323-334, March.
  10. Quisumbing, Agnes R. & Maluccio, John A., 2000. "Intrahousehold allocation and gender relations," FCND discussion papers 84, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  11. Haroon Bhorat, 2004. "Labour Market Challenges In The Post-Apartheid South Africa," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 72(5), pages 940-977, December.
  12. Anne Case & Motohiro Yogo, 1999. "Does School Quality Matter? Returns to Education and the Characteristics of Schools in South Africa," NBER Working Papers 7399, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Esther Duflo, 2000. "Grandmothers and Granddaughters: Old Age Pension and Intra-household Allocation in South Africa," NBER Working Papers 8061, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Esther Duflo, 2000. "Child Health and Household Resources in South Africa: Evidence from the Old Age Pension Program," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 393-398, May.
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