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Challenging inequalities through policy relevant academic research.

NEWSLETTER

November 2019
Dear friends,

In our November newsletter, we profile some of our ongoing work on health outcomes in South Africa. Referring to a project that he leads, Dr Brendan Maughan-Brown discusses a planned intervention to increase the rate at which newly diagnosed HIV-positive men choose to take up treatment. Drawing on findings from behavioural economics and psychology, this is an exciting project that has the potential to make a real difference to people’s lives, and we look forward to sharing more details with you as the project unfolds.

We also highlight a recent report released by StatsSA on ‘Inequality Trends in South Africa’ that was co-authored with SALDRU and the Agence Francaise de Développement. The report brought together the results of a substantial joint research project, and has been widely cited in the media. It is also one of the first outputs from the recently launched African Centre of Excellence for Inequalities Research (ACEIR), which is hosted by SALDRU. SALDRU will lead some policy engagements based on this report early in 2020.

Saldrupians continue to reach out and play our part in training and capacity building. Kim Ingle presented at a data use and dissemination workshop, on how panel data such as the National Income Dynamics Study can inform policy making. Vimal Ranchhod, together with colleagues from Ghana and Kenya, led a workshop for young researchers on how to conduct empirical inequality research. This workshop included illustrative examples from each of the three countries.

This past month was also one of intense activity as the academic calendar draws to a close for the year. Several members of our team are involved in teaching and graduate level supervision, and the process of grading and finalizing marks is one of the busier periods of the year for those involved. It is, however, extremely rewarding to see our students develop and flourish, and we look forward to hearing about their achievements as time passes.

Best wishes,
Murray Leibbrandt
Director, SALDRU
Vimal Ranchhod
Deputy Director, SALDRU
SALDRU NEWS

SALDRU project to improve HIV treatment outcomes in South Africa

Image: StockSnap on Pixabay

This month, a SALDRU-led research team began a project to develop and test a gender-tailored counselling tool to increase demand for rapid HIV treatment uptake and early retention in care among South African men living with HIV. Titled ‘From Now On’, the intervention is a short, powerfully emotive video designed to mitigate men’s psychosocial barriers to treatment initiation and motivate initiation by applying behavioural economics insights to maximise the impact of affect-based messaging. Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the intervention will be developed in collaboration with Reel Epics Productions, an award-winning South African production company. The project is led by SALDRU’s Dr Brendan Maughan-Brown, and is a collaboration between the University of Cape Town, the University of Pennsylvania and Brown University. Read more.

Inequality Trends in South Africa – A multidimensional diagnostic of inequality

Image: Statistics South Africa

A report on inequality trends in South Africa was published by Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) on 14 November. This report is a joint publication by StatsSA in partnership with SALDRU and the Agence Francaise de Développement (AFD), which was facilitated by the African Centre of Excellence for Inequality Research (ACEIR), hosted by SALDRU. The report provides a broad overview of various dimensions of inequality in South Africa over recent years. It made use of a variety of data sources, including the National Income Dynamics Study (NIDS), which SALDRU implemented for the first five rounds. Read a summary by StatsSA about the report’s release and some of its findings or read the full report.

SA faces enormous challenges


Image: Elias Sch. on Pixabay


Murray Leibbrandt together with Anda David from the Agence Francaise de Développement (AFD) and Werner Ruch from StatsSA, wrote an op-ed for City Press which was published late this month. The op-ed explains the policy importance of the aforementioned inequality trends report, the collaboration behind it and the datasets used in compiling the report. Drawing on some monetary and non-monetary measures of inequality from the report, the op-ed gives examples of the levels and trends of inequality in South Africa in recent years, as well as some important nuances about these and what they reveal. Given that the findings reveal a complex picture, the authors suggest complementing the standard Gini coefficient measure of inequality with the Palma ratio, which measures the ratio of the richest 10% of the population’s share in gross national income over the poorest 40%’s share. Read the op-ed.

PEOPLE NEWS

New ACEIR team member

SALDRU warmly welcomes Fabio Andres Diaz Pabón, who joins the ACEIR team as a Research Officer. Fabio’s research interests are related to politics, conflict, development and economics, from a comparative perspective. We very much look forward to working with Fabio on the intersections between theory and practice in these complex areas.

Fabio is also a Research Associate in the Department of Political and International Studies at Rhodes University.

SPOTLIGHT

Research Associate job opportunities with J-PAL Africa

Image: athree23 on Pixabay

J-PAL Africa is seeking Johannesburg-based Research Associates to support its mission of reducing poverty by ensuring that policy is informed by scientific evidence. We are looking for aspiring researchers with strong technical skills, a dedication to quality and a passion for working with diverse communities on poverty alleviation strategies. Learn more and apply.

Gauteng City Regional Observatory (GCRO) data use and dissemination workshop

Image: GCRO on Twitter

At a GCRO data use and dissemination workshop held this month, Kim Ingle presented on the National Income Dynamics Study (NIDS) and other national panels and their policy interface. She discussed the channels through which national panel data reaches the policy conversation, and gave examples of where each of these channels were used for the data from NIDS and one of three established panel studies from around the world. The workshop presenters’ topics spanned approaches to sharing research and data, as well as the research-policy interface. Facilitated discussions were held with these presenters and attendees of the workshop, which included local government officials, GCRO affiliates and staff. See a tweet about the event.

EVENTS

ACEIR hosts workshop for young researchers on poverty and inequality at the University of Nairobi

Image: TeroVersalainen on Pixabay

On the 20th of November, a team of researchers from the African Centre of Excellence on Inequalities Research (ACEIR) hosted a workshop for young researchers who are interested in conducting quantitative research on poverty and inequality. The team was comprised of Vimal Ranchhod from SALDRU, Richmond Atta-Ankomah from the University of Ghana and Damiano Kulundu Manda from the University of Nairobi.

The workshop was held at the University of Nairobi campus, as part of the Second Biennial Conference of the African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA). Most members of the audience were graduate students and junior faculty. The workshop included a discussion of conceptual issues in poverty and inequality measurement, data and software, and how to estimate some of the more common indicators of poverty and inequality. This was followed by some illustrative examples from Kenya, Ghana and South Africa.



SALDRU Seminars


SALDRU Seminar 20 November: “Collateral Damages: Cash Transfers and Debt Transfers in South Africa”, by Erin Torkelson of the University of California and the Black Sash.

For information about past and future seminars, click here. To subscribe to our seminar mailing list, click here.
IN THE MEDIA
UCT News, 5 November 2019
UCT’s role in Nobel win

Business Day, 15 November 2019
Labour earnings gap up as top earners pull away (available for PressReader subscribers)

Sunday Times, 17 November 2019
Little comfort in SA inequality gap study (available for PressReader subscribers)

Mail and Guardian, 19 November 2019
Why South Africa is the world’s most unequal society
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