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Wage subsidy and labor market flexibility in south Africa

  • Go, Delfin S.
  • Kearney, Marna
  • Korman, Vijdan
  • Robinson, Sherman
  • Thierfelder, Karen

In this paper, the authors use a highly disaggregate general equilibrium model to analyze the feasibility of a wage subsidy to unskilled workers in South Africa, isolating and estimating its potential employment effects and fiscal cost. They capture the structural characteristics of the labor market with several labor categories and substitution possibilities, linking the economy-wide results on relative prices, wages, and employment to a micro-simulation model with occupational choice probabilities in order to investigate the poverty and distributional consequences of the policy. The impact of a wage subsidy on employment, poverty, and inequality in South Africa depends greatly on the elasticities of substitution of factors of production, being very minimal if unskilled and skilled labor are complements in production. The desired results are attainable only if there is sufficient flexibility in the labor market. Although the impact in a low case scenario can be improved by supporting policies that relax the skill constraint and increase the production capacity of the economy especially towards labor-intensive sectors, the gains from a wage subsidy are still modest if the labor market remains very rigid.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 4871.

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Date of creation: 01 Mar 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:4871
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  1. Taryn Dinkelman & Farah Pirouz, 2002. "Individual, Household And Regional Determinants Of Labour Force Attachment In South Africa:," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 70(5), pages 865-891, 06.
  2. Dani Rodrik, 2006. "Understanding South Africa's Economic Puzzles," NBER Working Papers 12565, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Stephen Nickell & Luca Nunziata & Wolfgang Ochel & Glenda Quintini, 2001. "The Beveridge curve, unemployment and wages in the OECD from the 1960s to the 1990s - preliminary version," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 20113, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  4. Kingdon, Geeta Gandhi & Knight, John, 2004. "Unemployment in South Africa: The Nature of the Beast," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 391-408, March.
  5. Philippe Aghion & Matias Braun & Johannes Fedderke, 2007. "Competition and Productivity Growth in South Africa," Working Papers 54, Economic Research Southern Africa.
  6. Harris, Richard, 1984. "Applied General Equilibrium Analysis of Small Open Economies with Scale Economies and Imperfect Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(5), pages 1016-32, December.
  7. Go, Delfin S. & Kearney, Marna & Robinson, Sherman & Thierfelder, Karen, 2005. "An Analysis of South Africa's Value Added Tax," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3671, The World Bank.
  8. D. Boccanfuso & F. Cabral & F. Cissé & A. Diagne & L. Savard, 2003. "Pauvreté et distribution de revenus au Sénégal: une approche par la modélisation en équilibre général calculable micro-simulé," Cahiers de recherche 0333, CIRPEE.
  9. L Edwards, 2001. "Globalisation And The Skills Bias Of Occupational Employment In South Africa," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 69(1), pages 40-71, 03.
  10. Kalie Pauw & Lawrence Edwards, 2006. "Evaluating The General Equilibrium Effects Of A Wage Subsidy Scheme For South Africa," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 74(3), pages 442-462, 09.
  11. Essama-Nssah, B. & Go, Delfin S. & Kearney, Marna & Korman, Vijdan & Robinson, Sherman & Thierfelder, Karen, 2007. "Economy-wide and distributional impacts of an oil price shock on the south African economy," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4354, The World Bank.
  12. Abhijit Banerjee & Sebastian Galiani & Jim Levinsohn & Zo� McLaren & Ingrid Woolard, 2008. "Why has unemployment risen in the New South Africa?," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 16(4), pages 715-740, October.
  13. Löfgren, Hans & Harris, Rebecca Lee & Robinson, Sherman, 2001. "A standard computable general equilibrium (CGE) model in GAMS," TMD discussion papers 75, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  14. E. Paul Durrenberger, 2005. "Labour," Chapters, in: A Handbook of Economic Anthropology, chapter 8 Edward Elgar.
  15. Morné Oosthuizen & Haroon Bhorat, 2005. "The Post-Apartheid South African Labour Market," Working Papers 05093, University of Cape Town, Development Policy Research Unit.
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