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Graduate unemployment and Higher Education Institutions in South Africa


  • Hendrik van Broekhuizen

    (Department of Economics, University of Stellenbosch)


The emerging consensus regarding high and rising levels of graduate unemployment in South Africa in recent years has primarily been based on a select number of studies, all of which have serious shortcomings ranging from deficient definitions of “graduates” to the use of outdated, incomplete, or unrepresentative data. Moreover, given the heterogeneity in the quality of higher education in South Africa, existing findings regarding aggregate graduate unemployment in the country, even if accurate, mask the substantial variation in labour market outcomes which are likely to be faced by graduates from different higher education institutions. This paper attempts to address these issues by examining graduate unemployment and employment in South Africa with specific emphasis on the type and quality of higher education using multiple labour force survey and administrative datasets. Its primary contribution is to incorporate the effect of potential measures of higher education institution type and quality on the likelihood of graduate unemployment and employment by probabilistically linking graduates that are observed in labour force survey data to the institutions from which they are likely to have graduated given their time-invariant observable characteristics and the known demographic composition of the graduates produced by each of South Africa’s formal higher education institutions every year. The analysis shows that graduate unemployment in South Africa is not only low in relation to overall unemployment in the country, but that much of the racially-delineated differentials in graduate unemployment and employment outcomes can likely be attributed to heterogeneity in the quality and type of higher education institutions commonly attended by individuals from different racial backgrounds.

Suggested Citation

  • Hendrik van Broekhuizen, 2016. "Graduate unemployment and Higher Education Institutions in South Africa," Working Papers 08/2016, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:sza:wpaper:wpapers264

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Precious Mncayi & Phindile Mdluli, 2019. "Why are they not looking for employment? A South African Youth Perspective," Proceedings of International Academic Conferences 9912247, International Institute of Social and Economic Sciences.
    2. Daniela-Emanuela D?n?cic?, 2017. "Higher Educated People And (Re)Employment Probability In Romania," Annals of University of Craiova - Economic Sciences Series, University of Craiova, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, vol. 1(45), pages 82-94, November.
    3. Daniela Emanuela DĂNĂCICĂ, 2023. "The Effect of Academic Specialization on Unemployment Spells and (Re) Employment Hazard of Highly Educated Individuals in Romania," Journal for Economic Forecasting, Institute for Economic Forecasting, vol. 0(1), pages 91-106, March.
    4. Victoria Kakooza & Robert Wamala & James Wokadala & Thomas Bwire, 2019. "A Causal Model to Compare the Extent of Undergraduates’- Postgraduates’ Impact on Unemployment in Uganda," International Journal of Higher Education, Sciedu Press, vol. 8(5), pages 110-110, October.
    5. Daniel Francois Meyer & Precious Mncayi, 2021. "An Analysis of Underemployment among Young Graduates: The Case of a Higher Education Institution in South Africa," Economies, MDPI, vol. 9(4), pages 1-16, December.

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    More about this item


    graduates; unemployment; higher education;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search
    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions
    • I26 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Returns to Education

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