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Dear reader, 
In this edition of the newsletter of the Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, you will find news on SALDRU's latest working papers and journal articles, as well as recent and upcoming training activities, and the seminar series. If you would prefer not to receive these newsletters in the future, you can unsubscribe here.
Postgraduate Diploma in Survey Data Analysis for Development
From 2016, DataFirst, SALDRU and the UCT School of Economics will be offering a series of short courses, together with a research project, as the new Post Graduate Diploma in Survey Data Analysis for Development. This is a year long course fully accredited by UCT. A full list of the courses is below. Please note that you can attend one or more courses without having to register for the full diploma.
  • Cross Sectional Econometric Methods
  • Panel Data Methods
  • Complex Survey Methods
  • Social Welfare Measurement
  • Applied Labour Economics
  • Consumption and Microeconomic Theory
  • Research Project Workshop
For more information, please contact Alison Siljeur
UCT scholars honoured at ASSAf award ceremony
Murray LeibbrandtFive UCT scholars were celebrated at the Academy of Science of South Africa’s annual award ceremony on 14 October in Stellenbosch. The ASSAf inaugurated 31 new scientists (bringing its total membership to 472), including two new UCT scholars. Professor Murray Leibbrandt (Pro Vice-Chancellor for UCT’s Poverty and Inequality Initiative and SALDRU Director) was one of the scholars.
NIDS has produced a new video on the NIDS YouTube channel, available here. The video is on poverty dynamics evidenced in the NIDS data from Wave 1 to Wave 3 and is drawn from Finn & Leibbrandt (2013), The Dynamics of Poverty in the First Three Waves of NIDS.     
SALDRU researchers' work on data fabrication published in The World Bank Economic Review
Arden Finn and Vimal Ranchhod have had their paper, Genuine Fakes: The Prevalence and Implications of Data Fabrication in a Large South African Survey, published in The World Economic Review, the most widely read scholarly economic journal in the world, and the only one of its kind that specializes in quantitative development policy analysis. Finn and Ranchhod's paper was also profiled in the World Bank Development Impact blog in July 2014, in a post titled When bad people do good surveys. You can find the working paper version of this article here                 
Ad Hominem Promotions
We would like to congratulate the following SALDRU Researchers and Associates on their recent promotions: All these promotions are effective from 1 January 2016. Well done!
Statistical Analysis of Census and Survey Data using Stata
During the second half of July, SALDRU researchers worked with academics from the University of Ghana and the University of Cape Coast to deliver a two-week training programme on the use of Stata. The course was attended by 25 participants from Government ministries and academia, including PhD students. The training focused on data management with Stata, and the analysis of survey and time series datasets with the software.
From Evidence to Policy - Innovations in Shaping Reforms in Africa
The Poverty and Inequality Initiative at UCT welcomed the opportunity to work with the World Bank to present a four-day learning event which brought together policymakers, academics, civil society representatives, and development partners to discuss innovations in the use of evidence to inform policy design in Africa. The event featured a 2-day conference (July 21-22) and a 2-day training (July 23-24). 

The full programme is available here. To access presentations from the event, see here:
Highlighted publications
Genuine Fakes: The Prevalence and Implications of Data Fabrication in a Large South African Survey
Arden Finn and Vimal Ranchhod

Gpsbound: A Command for Importing and Verifying Geographical Information from a User-Provided Shapefile
Timothy Brophy, Reza Che Daniels and Sibongile Musundwa

Local Level Accountability in a Dominant Party System: Insights from South Africa
Eva Wegner

Sampling Methodology and Fieldwork Changes in the October Household Surveys and Labour Force Surveys
Andrew Kerr and Martin Wittenberg
Working papers
A national minimum wage in the context of the South African labour market
Arden Finn

Accents, race and discrimination: Evidence from a trust game
Ece Yagman and Malcolm Keswell

Can intra-regional trade act as a global shock absorber in Africa?
Zuzana Brixiova, Qingwei Meng and Mthuli Ncube

Does tenure insecurity explain the variations in land-related investment decisions in rural Ethiopia?
Muna Shifa, Murray Leibbrandt and Martin Wittenberg

Entrepreneurship and the business environment in Africa: An application to Ethiopia
Zuzana Brixiová and Mthuli Ncube

Estimating the effects of the South Africa's Youth Employment Tax Incentive – An update
Vimal Ranchhod and Arden Finn

Fertility and mother’s labour market behavior: Evidence from the 2011 South African Census
Cally Ardington, David Lam, Murray Leibbrandt, Alicia Menendez

Gender and constraints to entrepreneurship in Africa: New evidence from Swaziland
Zuzana Brixiova and Thierry Kangoye

Governance and inequality: Benchmarking and interpreting South Africa’s evolving political settlement
Ingrid Woolard, Brian Levy and Alan Hirsch  |  ESID Working Paper No. 51

Measuring inequality by asset indices: A general approach with application to South Africa
Martin Wittenberg and Murray Leibbrandt

Problems with SWIID: The case of South Africa
Martin Wittenberg

South African poverty lines: A review and two new money-metric thresholds
Joshua Budlender, Murray Leibbrandt and Ingrid Woolard

Strategies of the unemployed in South Africa: Does moving allow the unemployed to get ahead?
Amina Ebrahim, Murray Leibbrandt and Ingrid Woolard

Tax(i)ing the poor? Commuting costs in South Africa
Andrew Kerr

Unconditional cash transfers and children’s educational outcomes: Evidence from the old-age pension programme in South Africa
Jessica Standish-White and Arden Finn
Highlighted recent seminars
SALDRU seminars take place on Wednesdays at 13.00 in the 4th floor SAB Seminar Room in the Economics Building, UCT. Lunch is served beforehand, at 12.30 in the adjacent Staff Lounge. Please contact Clare Hofmeyr with queries or to be added to the mailing list. Recent presentations included:
  • The impact of voter knowledge initiatives in Sierra Leone |  Rachel Glennester
  • Forced co-existence on social capital: Evidence from resettlements during apartheid | Martin Abel
  • Identity, trust, and discrimination in a social Exchange experiment | Ece Yagman
  • Washing with Hope: Evaluating an intervention to encourage hand washing amongst young children | Justine Burns
New Econ3x3 Briefs

How much is inequality reduced by progressive taxation and government spending?

Ingrid Woolard, Rebecca Metz, Gabriela Inchauste, Nora Lustig and Mashekwa Maboshe

Tax(i)ing the poor? Commuting costs in South Africa

Andrew Kerr


In the media
Africa: Is SA the 'fattest nation' in sub-Saharan Africa, with a third of people obese?
10 July 2015  |  Africa Check

Newspapers reported that 1-in-3 South Africans is obese. Is this true? Do South Africans tip the scales as the heaviest nation in sub-Saharan Africa? Read more...

Youth jobs: Subsidy has little impact
19 July 2015  |  Business Report

A study by SALDRU has cast doubt on the effectiveness of the government’s youth wage subsidy in the first two quarters after its inception on January 1 last year. It found no evidence that the introduction of the employment tax incentive had any impact on the rate at which young people found jobs. Read more... 


New policy on pupil pregnancies
24 July 2015  |  IOL News

A new draft policy which sets out how schools should support pregnant pupils and protect them from discrimination is expected to be published for public comment before the end of this year. Read more…

Health-e News: SA’s food chain, a noose around women’s necks
11 August 2015  |  Daily Maverick

Despite the current hype about Women’s Month, no one is more likely to be hungry than the women of this country. Women tend to be up to 30% poorer than men, while women-headed households are between 38% and more than 100% poorer than households headed by men, according to wave 1 of NIDS. Read more...


Wage carrot yet to prove its worth
20 August 2015  |  Business Report

In a statement from early January, the Treasury provided the public with some hard numbers about South Africa’s year-old Youth Employment Tax Incentive (ETI). A study using data from the nationally representative QLFS has found that the job prospects faced by young workers did not improve significantly last year, despite the high take-up of the incentive. Read more…


South Africa's 5 million working poor
26 August 2015  |  GroundUp

A study by Arden Finn to determine the wage level at which a worker and his or her family could be brought up to the poverty line found R4,125 was the carefully qualified answer. Unsurprisingly, 95% of those employed in domestic services and 90% of those in agriculture earn less than this. Read more…

Study on how to lift workers out of poverty
26 August 2015  |  Business Day Live

New research from a group at Wits indicates that to lift wage earners and their families out of poverty, earnings would need to reach around the R4,000 level. The research emerges as business, labour and the government have been closeted in negotiations over a national minimum wage for much of this year. Read more…

Wages: Delicate balance
27 August 2015  |  Financial Mail

NEDLAC has kept a tight lid on talks over the proposed national minimum wage. So far, NEDLAC participants have been avoiding the real meat of the debate: the appropriate level at which to set the wage and how many jobs could be lost as a result. The problem is the wide gap that exists between the low minimum wages in agriculture and domestic work and the high minimum wages in mining and the utilities sector. Read more...

Who is poor?
14 September 2015  |  Fin24

The poverty lines being used by South African officialdom could understate the country’s poor population by nearly 5 million people. New work by SALDRU, working closely with Stats SA, shows how what we know about the country can be skewed by extremely technical methodological decisions. Read more...

Education before economic liberation
20 September 2015  |  Fin24

South Africa spends, as a proportion of GDP, one of the largest amounts in the world on education. However, our education system continues to fail the poor, and unequal education perpetuates income inequality. Why, in a country where the national expenditure on education has steadily increased since 1997, are we not seeing the fruits of that investment? Read more...

South Africa needs serious interventions to fix extreme inequality
6 October 2015  |  Daily Maverick

Professor Thomas Piketty’s formula r > g expresses the tendency to rising inequality, particularly under neoliberal and financialised capitalism. This has happened on a global scale, with limited exceptions where progressive governments have acted to combat this powerful offensive by capital. Read more...

Piketty in South Africa
26 October 2015

In South Africa, Piketty, whose book chronicles the growing gap in wealth in developed countries, had come to the equivalent of the Hall of Fame. South Africa is the most unequal country in the world. The top ten per cent earn sixty to sixty-five per cent of the income; in the United States, by comparison, their share is forty-five to fifty per cent, and in Europe it is thirty to thirty-five per cent. Even in Brazil, long held to be one of the most unequal countries in the world, the top ten per cent’s share is fifty-five to sixty per cent of income, and falling, Piketty said in the Mandela lecture. “South Africa is really at the top of the class, so to speak.” Read more...
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