Challenging inequalities through policy relevant academic research.


June 2020

Dear Friends,

Our June newsletter leads with a discussion of some of the work on spatial inequalities being undertaken by SALDRU’s Muna Shifa and Murray Leibbrandt. The research, which forms part of the research portfolio of the African Centre of Excellence in Inequality Research (ACEIR), uses data from multiple surveys from several African countries in order to compare the relative importance of spatial inequalities in access to services and household welfare. The researchers are also able to discern how inequality is changing within each of the countries. This is an important and ambitious project, and we are proud of what the team has accomplished to date.

As “Youth month” draws to a close, it is wonderful to note that SALDRU researchers have been contributing to the national conversation, both in-person and through the impact of our research.

One of our Junior Research Fellows, Kathryn McDermott, left SALDRU at the end of May. Kathryn joined the J-PAL Africa team in 2014. We will miss her and wish her everything of the best going forward.

Best wishes,

Murray Leibbrandt
Director, SALDRU
Vimal Ranchhod
Deputy Director, SALDRU

Spatial inequality in Sub-Saharan Africa: recent evidence

Image: Joshua Hanson on Unsplash.

In most Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries, the spatial dimension of inequality (i.e. inequality across the regions of a country) is one of the key components of national inequality. In addition, such regional disparities in SSA are often largely associated with pre-existing social divisions such as religion and ethnicity leading to an increase in ethnic conflicts. Despite this, there is limited work which analyses the spatial dimension of inequality in SSA countries. This is due to concerns over data and especially the lack of comparable data for measuring wellbeing over time and across each country at sub-regional levels. SALDRU researchers are working on an African Centre of Excellence for Inequalities Research (ACEIR) project aiming to examine patterns of spatial and national inequalities in SSA using comparable data from the various Demographic and Health Surveys (DHSs). Two indicators are used to measure the welfare of households. First, detailed information on living standards indicators are used to calculate asset indices, using data from 24 countries that have comparable data in recent years. Data on access to basic services is used as a second indicator to proxy for household welfare in order to compare inequality over time. Read more.

Supporting youth during and beyond COVID-19

Image: Cottonbro on Pexels.

On the eve of Youth Day this month, City Press published an article written by Saldrupians Ariane De Lannoy, Gibson Mudiriza and Charmaine Smith, together with Lauren Graham from the Centre for Social Development in Africa (CSDA) at the University of Johannesburg. The article shares insights into the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on young South Africans, drawn from a survey conducted by SALDRU and Unicef SA through Unicef’s UReport platform. Other partners in this survey were the CSDA, the Children’s Radio Foundation, Youth Capital and Naspers Labs. Given the lived realities of youth in South Africa, both before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, the authors argue for the need for a multi-faceted and integrated strategy to support youths’ educational and employment transitions. They suggest that the Basic Package of Support for youth, which SALDRU is a collaborator of, is an example of such a program. Read the article.


Farewell to Kathryn McDermott

Sadly, Kathryn McDermott left SALDRU at the end of May to take a well-deserved break. Kathryn joined J-PAL in 2014 as a Research Associate on a project to measure the impact of prepaid electricity meters on electricity use and utility revenue. She left J-PAL as a Junior Research Fellow and co-PI on a utilities project. We’ll miss her wonderful presence in the office and are glad that she’ll always be part of the SALDRU family. Best wishes to Kathryn.


Locked down and locked out: Repurposing social assistance as emergency relief to informal workers

The COVID-19 pandemic presents a particular challenge to countries with high levels of labour market informality. Informal workers and their households are especially vulnerable to the negative economic consequences of the pandemic and associated lockdown measures, while the very fact of their informality makes it difficult for governments to quickly provide targeted economic relief. Using South Africa as a case study, the authors examine how an established social assistance system - not originally designed to support informal workers - can be re-purposed to provide emergency relief to these workers and their households. They examine how expansions of this system on the intensive margin (increasing the value of existing social grants) and extensive margin (introducing a new feasibly-implemented grant) can be used to mitigate this COVID-19-associated poverty. The authors compare the efficacy of the different policies by using pre-pandemic nationally representative household survey data to project how a negative shock to informal incomes can be mitigated by the different social grant measures, with a particular emphasis on poverty impacts. Access here.

Citation: Bassier, I., Budlender, J., Zizzamia, R., Leibbrandt, M., Ranchhod, V. (2020). Locked down and locked out: Repurposing social assistance as emergency relief to informal workers. Version 2. Cape Town: SALDRU, UCT. (SALDRU Working Paper Number 261).    

For more SALDRU working papers, journal article contributions and policy briefs, please visit OpenSALDRU.

Launch of new book: Migrant Labour After Apartheid

SALDRU is delighted to announce the launch of a new book, Migrant Labour After Apartheid, produced by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), and edited by SALDRU’s own Emeritus Professor Francis Wilson, in partnership with SALDRU friends Leslie Bank (HSRC) and Dorrit Posel (Wits University). Research used in the book was supported by SALDRU’s Research Project on Employment, Income Distribution, and Inclusive Growth (REDI3x3), which ran from 2012 – 2018. Read more.


SALDRU Seminars

Please note: In order to decrease risk and spread of the COVID-19, as well as aligning with the university's decision on minimising gatherings, all SALDRU seminars are cancelled until further notice.

For information about past and future seminars, click here. To subscribe to our seminar mailing list, click here.
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Tech Financials, 30 May 2020
Promised R350 COVID-19 grant for jobless disappoints millions

Financial Mail, 5 June 2020
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