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Education and Inequality: The South African Case

Nicola Branson, Julia Garlick, David Lam () and Murray Leibbrandt ()

No 75, SALDRU Working Papers from Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town

Abstract: Following the international literature, income inequality decompositions on data from contemporary South Africa show that the labour market is the key driver of overall household inequality. In order to understand one of the channels driving this labour market inequality, we use national household survey data to review changing returns to education in the South African labour market over the last 15 years; with a focus on both the returns to getting employment as well as the earnings returns for those that have employment. We show that South Africa has experienced a skills twist with the returns to matric and post-secondary education rising and the returns to levels of education below this remaining constant. Then, based on a regression based decomposition of earnings inequality, we show how this has impacted earnings inequality. Indeed, the increase in returns to post-secondary education has directly counteracted the equalising gains that have been made by increased educational attainment, resulting in consistent levels of inequality over time.

Pages: 29 pages
Date: 2012
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-afr, nep-dev and nep-lab
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