Related Research Areas / Themes

Theme: Education

Topic: Understanding Unequal Outcomes in Education
Project Leader: Servaas van der Berg, DST-NRF South African Research Chair in the Economics of Social Policy
Summary: The project involves an analysis of educational datasets that have not been exploited for analytical purposes, or that have not been yet been adequately exploited, to better understand the weak educational outcomes for the poor. Descriptive analysis, educational production functions and, where possible, more sophisticated analyses aimed at identifying causal relationships will be undertaken. This will allow a better understanding of relationships and associations applying in the education field between socio-economic status, school resources, classroom practices and learning outcomes. This analysis will particularly focus on the position of the poor and at trying to explain educational inequality.

Theme: Social Cohesion

Topic: Gender, Family and Labour in South Africa
Project Leader: Dori Posel, Helen Suzman Chair in Political Economy, Wits University
Summary: The project explores the nature and implications of family formation in South Africa, with a particular focus on motherhood. The project investigates decisions to have children outside of marriage (or a stable union more generally), attitudes to motherhood, and the costs (and benefits) of having children.

Theme: Rural and Urban Renewal

Topic: Informalisation, urban poverty and inequality
Project Leaders: Edgar Pieterse and Philip Harrison, DST-NRF South African Research Chairs in Urban Policy and Spatial Analysis and City Planning, respectively
Summary: The project explores the spatial underpinnings of poverty and inequality in South Africa by focusing on different dimensions of informalisation in townships and inner city areas in metropolitan cities (with smaller cities and informal settlements to be included if additional funding is leveraged). The project will give particular attention to the relationships between the different processes (for example, between informal rental, informal transport, informal retail, and informal service provision). It will also focus on the intersections and relationships between informalisation and the predominantly formal processes in the economy and of governance. The project crosses scales providing a wide view of these intersections in different spaces but also revealing the fine-grain dynamics of everyday life. The project further aims to build an understanding of processes that are often hidden from the purview of officialdom in a way that would support more responsive policies.

Theme: Rural and Urban Renewal

Topic: Owners, workers and the future of commercial agriculture
Project Leader: Lungisile Ntsebeza, DST-NRF South African Research Chair in Land Reform and Democracy in South Africa
Summary: This project investigates the manner in which access to and use of land contributes towards reducing poverty, inequality and food sovereignty in South Africa. The focus will be on selected cases in the Chris Hani District municipal area in the Eastern Cape, which includes examples from land reform projects and communal areas. Qualitative and archival methods will be the main instruments for data collection and analysis.

Theme: Rural and Urban Renewal

Topic: Rural Development: Employment Creation in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestries
Project Leader: Ben Cousins, DST-NRF South African Research Chair in Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies
Summary: This research project is about Rural Job Creation In South Africa. The project is collecting and analysing secondary and primary data on employment in the following sub-sectors, commodities and locations:

  • citrus in Limpopo and the Western Cape;
  • fresh produce from smallholder irrigation schemes in the Eastern Cape;
  • deciduous fruit in the Western Cape;
  • fisheries in the Western Cape;
  • commercial forestry.

The overall objective of the research is to estimate the potential for employment creation in selected agricultural commodities and producers, as well as in fisheries and forestry. More specifically, the project will seek to:

  • characterise changing employment dynamics in these sub-sectors in the past;
  • assess current constraints and opportunities in relation to employment creation;
  • explore the relative weighting of the following variables as determinants of job creation in each specific commodity and sub-sector: wages and labour productivity, costs of capital, costs of inputs, availability and cost of land, domestic and international markets, and uncertainties in the wider environment (e.g. climate change, state policies and political forces);
  • evaluate the potential for sub-sectoral and commodity-specific policies to alter the relative balance of constraints and opportunities; and
  • propose and assess a range of policy options aimed at facilitating job creation in South Africa’s rural economy.

Theme: Health

Topic: Poverty, Inequality and Health in South Africa
Project Leader: Diane McIntyre, DST-NRF South African Research Chair in Health and wealth in South Africa
Summary: Recently, and within the global Sustainable Development Goals agenda, there is a growing concern for countries to move towards a universal health system. Such a system is that which guarantees access to needed health services that are affordable and of adequate quality with no financial hardship for the user. Within this, there is a strong role for the health system, since this plays a major role in providing health services (promotive, preventive, rehabilitative, curative, etc.) that are of acceptable quality and that address the health care needs the population. However, the way these services are financed and provided is important for the economy as a whole and not only for the performance of the health system. The project will attempt to extend the research agenda by looking at the nature of redistribution associated with financing and delivery of health services over the past decade. It will also assess how the health system can further assist in improving income redistribution in South Africa. Because there is a potential for government financing of accessible, quality health services to reduce health inequality and improve income redistribution, the study places particular emphasis on how government spending on health services can contribute to redistribution in South Africa. This is in addition to the longstanding beneficial impact of government social assistance in the country. In addition to an assessment of redistribution over time, the study aims to explore the practical institutional arrangements needed to promote inequality reduction through in-kind services.

Theme: Labour Issues

Topic: Labour Regulation in South Africa – Strike Activity and Minimum Wages
Project Leader: Haroon Bhorat, DST-NRF South African Research Chair in Economic Growth, Poverty and Inequality: Exploring Interactions for South Africa
Summary: The project is focused on two interlinked labour market issues in the South African economy, namely that of the size, shape and consequence of strike activity in the South African economy, and secondly, the economic consequences of sectoral minimum wage laws and the extent of minimum wage violation. This first component of the proposed research agenda hopes to inject a more objective and informative understanding around the nature of strikes and strike activity in South Africa.

In terms of the second component of the research agenda, namely that focused on the economy’s sectoral minimum wages – three core areas arise: Firstly, the project will describe and estimate the medium- to longer-run effects of South Africa’s minimum wage laws. Secondly, using a new technique for measuring minimum wage violation, the project hopes to examine the evolution of minimum wage violation, particularly in relation to minimum wage adjustments over time. Finally, an area surprisingly overlooked in this literature, is that focusing on the impact of minimum wage legislation on household poverty levels.