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Post-Apartheid Trends in Gender Discrimination in South Africa: Analysis through Decomposition Techniques

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  • Debra Shepherd

    () (Department of Economics, Stellenbosch University)

Abstract

Using appropriate econometric methods and 11 representative household surveys, this paper empirically assesses the extent and evolution of gender discrimination in the South African labour market over the post-apartheid period. Attention is also paid to the role that anti-discriminatory legislation has had to play in effecting change in the South African labour market. Much of the paper’s focus is placed on African women who would have benefited most from the new legislative environment. African and, to a lesser extent, Coloured women received on average higher real wages than their male counterparts following changes in labour legislation. Oaxaca (1973) and Blinder (1973) decompositions reveal this to be due to both greater endowments of productive characteristics for African and Coloured women and declining gender discrimination that reached relative stability after 2000. Detailed Oaxaca-Blinder decompositions of the African gender wage gap reveal that the driving factor behind an increasing and negative explained component is improved distribution and returns to productive characteristics for women in certain occupations, as well as higher returns to education and employment in the public sector. However, African women are prevented from realising this in the form of higher earnings as a result of increasing levels of “pure discrimination” and returns to employment in certain industries for males. Decomposition results using the methodology of Juhn, Murphy and Pierce (1991, 1993) are suggestive of a sticky floor for African women in the South African labour market. The gender wage gap is therefore found to be wider at the bottom of the wage distribution than at the top.

Suggested Citation

  • Debra Shepherd, 2008. "Post-Apartheid Trends in Gender Discrimination in South Africa: Analysis through Decomposition Techniques," Working Papers 06/2008, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:sza:wpaper:wpapers54
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    File URL: https://www.ekon.sun.ac.za/wpapers/2008/wp062008/wp-06-2008.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Katharine L. Bradbury & Jane Katz, 2002. "Women's labor market involvement and family income mobility when marriages end," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue Q 4, pages 41-74.
    2. Doris Weichselbaumer & Rudolf Winter-Ebmer, 2005. "A Meta-Analysis of the International Gender Wage Gap," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(3), pages 479-511, July.
    3. Shoshana Neuman & Ronald Oaxaca, 2004. "Wage Decompositions with Selectivity-Corrected Wage Equations: A Methodological Note," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 2(1), pages 3-10, April.
    4. Grün, Carola, 2003. "Racial and Gender Wage Differentials in South Africa: What can Cohort Data tell?," Discussion Papers in Economics 85, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    5. Becker, Gary S., 1971. "The Economics of Discrimination," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 2, number 9780226041162.
    6. Kenneth J. Arrow, 1998. "What Has Economics to Say about Racial Discrimination?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 91-100, Spring.
    7. Cotton, Jeremiah, 1988. "On the Decomposition of Wage Differentials," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 70(2), pages 236-243, May.
    8. 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.
    9. Juhn, Chinhui & Murphy, Kevin M & Pierce, Brooks, 1993. "Wage Inequality and the Rise in Returns to Skill," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 410-442, June.
    10. Rulof Burger & Rachel Jafta, 2006. "Returns to Race: Labour Market Discrimination in Post-Apartheid South Africa," Working Papers 04/2006, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gerard Boyce & Geoff Harris, 2013. "Hope the Beloved Country: Hope Levels in the New South Africa," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 113(1), pages 583-597, August.
    2. Budlender, Debbie., 2011. "Measuring the economic and social value of domestic work : conceptual and methodological framework," ILO Working Papers 994656483402676, International Labour Organization.
    3. Haroon Bhorat & Sumayya Goga, 2012. "The Gender Wage Gap in the Post-apartheid South African Labour Market," Working Papers 12148, University of Cape Town, Development Policy Research Unit.
    4. Martin Abel & Rulof Burger & Patrizio Piraino, 2017. "The value of reference letters," Working Papers 06/2017, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    5. Boniface Ngah Epo & Francis Menjo Baye & Nadine Teme Angele Manga, 2011. "Spatial and Inter-temporal Sources of Poverty, Inequality and Gender Disparities in Cameroon: a Regression-Based Decomposition Analysis," Working Papers PMMA 2011-15, PEP-PMMA.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Discrimination; Gender; South Africa;

    JEL classification:

    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing

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