Addressing low labour utilisation in South Africa

Policy Paper 27 South Africa’s stubbornly low labour utilisation rate is an international outlier and a heavy brake on the ambitions for growth and redistribution published in various strategic policy strategies (National Planning Commission 2013). More immediately, low labour utilisation is a major obstacle to the post-COVID-19 employment recovery. The purpose of this paper is […]

Institutions and Other Determinants of Total Factor Productivity in Sub-Saharan Africa

The primacy of factors of production, such as labour and capital, over Total Factor Productivity (TFP) in stimulating economic growth, has long been a contentious subject in discussions on the underlying causes of economic growth. While the roles of labour and capital have been exhaustively explored, TFP still has room for further exploration, more specifically […]

Human capital inequality and electoral outcomes

Inequality is a problem which has beset South Africa for a long time with the country being on record as having one of the highest levels of inequality in the world. However, little is known about horizontal inequality between different groups in South Africa. Given the level of racial and ethnic diversity in South Africa, […]

How Does Human Capital Shape the Social Contract?

This research brief presents the key findings and potential policy implications of an empirical paper on the link between education and institutions. Specifically, the paper seeks to examine the impact of education on corruption and law-and-order at different levels of political and economic development. In so doing, I attempt to investigate the contribution of aggregate […]

The Impact of the Slave Trade on Literacy in Africa: Evidence from the Colonial Era

Recent studies have highlighted the importance of Africa’s history of slave exporting to its current economic development. In this paper I show that differences in investment in education may be one of the channels through which that history has affected current development. I combine data on literacy rates of administrative districts from the colonial censuses […]

Does Famine Matter For Aggregate Adolescent Human Capital Acquisition In Sub-Saharan Africa?

To the extent that in utero and childhood malnutrition negatively affects later stage mental and physical health, it can possibly constrain later stage human capital acquisition, which is an important driver of economic growth. This paper considers the impact of famine on aggregate adolescent human capital formation in Sub-Saharan Africa. We parameterize a joint adolescent […]

Social capital as an engine of growth: Multisectoral modelling and implications

We propose a multisector endogenous growth model incorporating social capital. Social capital only serves as an input in the production of human capital and it involves a cost in terms of the final good. We show that in contrast to existing alternative specifications, this setting assures that social capital enhances productivity gains by playing the […]

From chimera to prospect: South African sources of and constraints on long-term growth, 1970-2000

Policy Paper 01 The paper takes stock of South Africa’s past growth experience during the period 1970-2000. It discuses major factors of growth, including physical and human capital, and institutions, and draws conclusions about the constraints to long-run growth in the future. We highlight three main conclusions on physical capital and uncertainty, market distortions (especially […]

Slave numeracy in the Cape Colony and comparative development in the eighteenth century

The lack of accurate measures of human capital formation often constrain investigations into the long-run determinants of growth and comparative economic development, especially in regions such as Africa. Using the reported age of criminals in the Courts of Justice records in the Cape Archive, this paper documents, for the first time, the levels of and […]

The role of human and social capital: Extending our understanding

Policy Paper (Interest) 11 Human capital, institutions and social capital are now all recognized as significant factors of growth. They have largely been studied separately, and although they present sufficient common characteristics to be conceptualized as one main category distinct from physical capital, it may still be more important to focus on the links among […]