South Africa

Shah, K. & Sturzenegger, F., 2022. Search, Transport Costs, and Labor Markets in South Africa.Abstract

South Africa’s labor market exhibits a unique equilibrium with one of the highest unemployment rates in the world and yet a low level of informal employment. The unemployment rate has remained high and persistent over recent decades, in spite of the formal demise of the apartheid regime and subsequent transition to democracy in 1994. This paper uses a matching model of the labor market to argue that spatial considerations combined with low productivity of informal work may be responsible for such an outcome. Spatial dispersion inherited from the apartheid regime thins the labor market, creating exclusion and perpetuating spatial segregation. In most developing countries, the result would be higher employment in informal or own account employment. However, with low productivity in the informal sector, the high rate of exclusion shows itself in higher unemployment rates instead. Transportation costs and housing deregulation may become key factors in improving the working of the labor market in South Africa especially if it is not possible to raise informal productivity.

Related project: Growth Through Inclusion in South Africa

Lochmann, A., Rao, N. & Rossi, M.A., 2022. The Long-Run Effects of South Africa’s Forced Resettlements on Employment Outcomes.Abstract

Can South Africa’s segregation policies explain, at least partially, its current poor employment outcomes? To explore this question, we study the long-term impact of the forced resettlement of around 3.5 million black South Africans from their communities to the so-called “homelands” or “Bantustans”, between 1960 and 1991. Our empirical strategy exploits the variability in the magnitude of resettlements between communities. Two main findings. First, the magnitude of outgoing internal migrations was largest for districts close to former homelands. Second, districts close to former homelands have higher rates of non-employed population in 2011. Together the evidence suggests that districts that experienced racial segregation policies most intensely, as measured by outgoing forced resettlements, have worse current employment outcomes.

Related project: Growth Through Inclusion in South Africa

Lochmann, A., 2022. Diagnosing Drivers of Spatial Exclusion: Places, People, and Policies in South Africa’s Former Homelands.Abstract

This report analyzes the economic legacy of spatial exclusion in South Africa, focusing on the long-term effects of the former Bantustan policy. Through quantitative analysis, the report explores the spatial dimension of economic activity in South Africa and specifically how this particular spatial institution has continued to shape current economic outcomes, despite past and present attempts to reverse the effect. The report also identifies areas for further research and potential intervention to enable more effective economic inclusion of the former homeland areas of the country.

Related project: Accelerating Growth Through Inclusion in South Africa

Fortunato, A., 2022. Getting Back on the Curve: South Africa’s Manufacturing Challenge.Abstract

The report aims to inform the government’s strategic approach towards manufacturing by analyzing the potential and limits for job creation within the sector. To meet that goal, we analyze the sector’s main features and recent trajectory through the lens of global deindustrialization and South Africa’s particular industrial dynamics. Secondly, we provide evidence of how, when, and why South Africa has deviated from the global deindustrialization trends. Lastly, we provide a policy framework to address the bottlenecks that are preventing South Africa from getting back on a better track of industrial performance.

Related project: Accelerating Growth Through Inclusion in South Africa

Shah, K., 2022. Diagnosing South Africa’s High Unemployment and Low Informality.Abstract

This report analyzes the causes and consequences of South Africa’s high rates of unemployment and the unique nature of labor market exclusion in the country. It leverages a combination of new quantitative analysis using South African datasets and international datasets for benchmarking, together with synthesis of existing literature and case studies. The goal is to: (1) characterize the challenge of labor market exclusion in South Africa, (2) identify ways in which this is similar and different to other countries, (3) understand what drives the unique challenges of the labor market in South Africa, and (4) narrow down what policy areas are most important to address the underlying drivers. This report takes a diagnostic approach to understand the causes of South Africa’s unique pattern of low informality.

Related project: Accelerating Growth Through Inclusion in South Africa

Klinger, B., 2022. More (Inclusive) Entrepreneurship in South Africa: The Role of Franchising.Abstract

This paper explores franchising in South Africa, and its potential to help resolve the economy’s challenges of low entrepreneurship and concentrated ownership. South Africa features a large franchising sector, with half a million formal workers and a large number of small businesses owners competing directly with vertically integrated chains. Traditional franchising may not have much space for further growth as a percentage of the economy, but it can be made more inclusive with innovations in franchise finance that broaden the base of potential franchisees, as well as enforcement of consumer protections to ensure franchisee-franchisor relationships are balanced. The expansion of the franchising model to less capital-intensive business concepts and serving lower-income consumers (micro-franchising) is one area with expanding growth potential for the country, while the application of the franchising model to public services and socially driven organizations is less promising. Finally, while the franchising model is only directly applicable to particular sectors, there are features of franchising and the capabilities built up around the franchising that could be applied to other priority areas of the economy, in particular to smallholder agriculture. The success of traditional franchising shows the power of a menu of standardized proposals and contracts in a marketplace with a range of franchisors (in this case, up- and downstream agriculture corporates) offering different opportunities to potential franchisees (in this case, smallholder farming communities), along with training and technology transfer at scale.

Related project: Accelerating Growth Through Inclusion in South Africa

Hausmann, R., et al., 2022. Macroeconomic risks after a decade of microeconomic turbulence: South Africa 2007-2020.Abstract
This study analyses the performance of macroeconomic policy in South Africa in 2007–2020 and outlines challenges for policy in the coming decade. After remarkable economic growth in 1997–07, South Africa’s progress slowed dramatically in 2009 with the global financial crisis. Real GDP growth decelerated more than in other emerging markets and mineral exporting peers and never recovered pre-crisis levels. In addition, the budget deficit that provided counter-cyclical support to the economy was never reigned in, leading to a rapidly rising public debt load. The study assesses three accounts of South Africa’s post-GFC growth and fiscal slump: (1) an external story; (2) a macro story; and (3) a microeconomic story. Evidence of strong linkages between micro- and political developments and growth performance is provided.
Economics of Covid-19 in three sub‑Saharan African countries: Ethiopia, Namibia and South Africa
Goldstein, P. & Hausmann, R., 2021. Economics of Covid-19 in three sub‑Saharan African countries: Ethiopia, Namibia and South Africa. In R. Arezki, S. Djankov, & U. Panizza, ed. Shaping Africa’s Post-Covid Recovery. The Centre for Economic Policy Research Press, pp. 195-214. Publisher's VersionAbstract
With the exception of some flashpoints in Northern and Southern Africa, the continent has been largely spared from the direct health effect of Covid-19. However, the African economy has been significantly hurt by the economic consequences. This eBook summarises recent research on the economic effect of the Covid-19 pandemic in the continent covering a wide array of topics focusing on the response of firms, households, governments, and international organisations.
Barrios, D., Russell, S. & Andrews, M., 2016. Bringing Home the Gold? A Review of the Economic Impact of Hosting Mega-Events.Abstract

There is perhaps no larger sports policy decision than the decision to host or bid to host a mega-event like the FIFA World Cup or the Summer Olympics. Hosts and bidders usually justify their decisions by touting their potential impact. Many organizers and promoters either fund or widely disseminate ex-ante studies that tend to highlight the positive effects of the event. For instance, the consultancy firm Ernst & Young produced a 2010 report prior to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil that painted an optimistic picture of the event’s potential legacy. It estimated that an additional R$ 142.39 billion (4.91% of 2010 GDP) would flow through the Brazilian economy over the 2010-2014 period, generating 3.63 million jobs per year, R$ 63.48 billion (2.17% of 2010 GDP) of income for the population and additional tax collection of R$ 18.13 billion (0.62% of 2010 GDP) for the local, state and federal governments. Ernst & Young estimated that during the same period 2.98 million additional visitors would travel to Brazil, increasing the international tourist inflow up to 79%.

Such results, if true, would clearly attractive for governments considering a bid, but these expected impacts don’t always materialize. Moreover, hosting mega-events requires significant investments - and the cost of these investments is rising. Zimbalist notes emerging economies like China, Brazil, and South Africa have increasingly perceived "mega-events as a sort of coming-out party signaling that [they are] now a modernized economy, ready to make [their] presence felt in world trade and politics" (Zimbalist 2015). Their intentions may be noble, but the intention of using mega-events as a "coming-out party" means developing countries hoping to host them need to make massive investments. They are confronted by significant obstacles in that they lack sufficient stadiums, accommodations, transportation systems, and other sports-related infrastructure. As a result, each of the mega-events hosted by emerging economies has been exorbitantly expensive. The 2014 World Cup cost Brazil between USD 15 billion and USD 20 billion, while Beijing reportedly spent USD 40 billion prior to the 2008 Summer Olympic (Zimbalist 2015). Additionally, as the debt-ridden 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal demonstrates, expensive mega-events are not limited to emerging economies alone. Flyvbjerg and Stewart have even shown that every Olympics since 1960 has gone over budget (Flyvbjerg and Stewart 2012).

Such incredible figures, in terms of both costs and benefits, beget the question: are mega-events worth it? Which type of reports should governments focus their attention on? What economic consequences should a government reasonably expect? With such high stakes, policymakers need to choose wisely. We attempt to answer these questions and aid the decisions of policymakers by providing a concise review of the rich academic literature on mega-events. For the purposes of this paper, we mainly focus on the Summer Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup as mega-events. However, we also leverage information regarding events like the Winter Olympic Games, the UEFA football championships, and the Commonwealth Games. These events are organized on a smaller scale than the previous two, but they might provide some insights on how to best understand mega-events. We focus on claims surrounding the direct or indirect mechanisms that facilitate the impact that ex-ante studies predict. We provide a review of these claims and their validity according to the existing literature.

Section 1 focuses on the argument that mega-events lead to increased economic activity in the host economy. Specifically, we evaluate whether or not mega-events leads to access to previously inaccessible funds and increased investments. These investments could theoretically come from supranational organizations, private stakeholders, or public stakeholders. We also consider whether or not these new expenditures and investments have the multiplicative effect that many ex-ante studies assume they have. We finally investigate if the economic activity surrounding mega-events leads to increased revenues and tax collection for host governments. Overall, the existing academic literature suggests that any increased economic activity resulting from the event is routinely dwarfed by additional public budgetary commitments. Moreover, the arguments regarding multiplicative effects and increased revenues also tend to be exaggerated.

Section 2 shifts the focus to the potential impact of mega-events on a specific industry: tourism. We explore the effect of mega-events on the number of tourists visiting the host region and their spending habits. We explore this channel both for analyses specific to a single mega-event and for cross-country evaluations incorporating many events. Next, we consider the impact of a mega-event on a region’s brand and image in the international community with the idea of testing if hosting the competition will impact future tourism. Finally, we consider if mega-events lead to increases in the capacity of a city or country to welcome future tourists as a result of improved airport infrastructure, accommodations, and/or transportation systems. As was true in Section 1, the academic literature suggests that the claims of many ex-ante studies are misleading. Our review finds that there is some evidence for increases in tourist arrivals to certain events, but those increases are far smaller than what is generally predicted beforehand. These effects are also usually dependent on factors, such as the timing of the competition, that are specific to the host region and the event itself.

Section 3 briefly discusses other potential qualitative and social impacts of mega-events such as international business relations, crime reduction, and the "feel-good effect." In the penultimate section, Section 4, we discuss how these conclusions should impact the decision-making of policymakers. Finally, in a short conclusion, we summarize the findings of our review.

South Africa Growth Initiative

The Growth Lab and the Center for International Development convened a panel of international experts from Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Michigan, and other institutions to work with South African economists to study that country's constraints to and opportunities for accelerated growth.... Read more about South Africa Growth Initiative

Hausmann, R., Rodrik, D. & Sabel, C., 2008. Reconfiguring Industrial Policy: A Framework with an Application to South Africa.Abstract
The main purpose of industrial policy is to speed up the process of structural change towards higher productivity activities. This paper builds on our earlier writings to present an overall design for the conduct of industrial policy in a low- to middle-income country. It is stimulated by the specific problems faced by South Africa and by our discussions with business and government officials in that country. We present specific recommendations for the South African government in the penultimate section of the paper.