Challenging inequalities through policy relevant academic research.


May 2021

Dear Friends,

Our lead article this month reports on some of the exciting developments regarding the Youth Explorer. This is a substantial and long-term project that has grown from strength to strength under the exceptional leadership of SALDRU Chief Research Officer Ariane De Lannoy. The portal was launched in 2017 and an expanded version of the portal with youth-centred data is going live during Youth Month, June 2021. The project has also added new staff and secured additional funding, most recently from the World Bank and with some forthcoming funding from the Agence Française de Développement. The project is an excellent example of how we can collaborate with many stakeholders, and use data and evidence to improve outcomes for people in a real and sustainable way.

Saldrupians have been busy and productive over the past month. Andrew Donaldson wrote a piece on South Africa’s national accounts, which were last rebased and benchmarked in 2014 and are due for an update. He then considers what the implications of the current benchmarking exercise might be. Abhijit Banerjee, a co-founder of J-PAL, spoke at UCT's virtual Vice-Chancellor’s Open Lecture about his book Good Economics for Hard Times.

Several Saldrupians wrote op-eds or articles in the press, and Fabio Díaz Pabón and his co-author published an academic article on inequality and mobility in cities in Ecuador and Chile. The African Centre of Excellence for Inequality Research co-hosted a debate with the French embassy in South Africa to discuss South Africa’s inequalities. Prof. Vimal Ranchhod delivered the keynote address to the online audience.

We sadly say goodbye to Jonathan Atkinson, who is leaving SALDRU at the end of May. Jon joined SALDRU in December 2017 and will be joining an exciting international project based at Stellenbosch University. We wish Jon all the best! We also welcome a number of new people into the Youth Explorer team.

Best wishes,

Murray Leibbrandt
Director, SALDRU
Vimal Ranchhod
Deputy Director, SALDRU

Youth Explorer expanded into tool for services mapping and referrals

Image: Megan Rexazin on Pixabay.

A new and more expanded version of the online portal with youth-centred data is going live during Youth Month, June 2021. The Youth Explorer, which uses national datasets to map indicators of youth well-being at the national, provincial, and sub-provincial levels, now includes information on government services that can be mapped at the community level. The need to add this new ‘layer of knowledge’ to the portal emerged through the SALDRU-led Basic Package of Support (BPS) intervention and in conversation with the National Pathway Management Network of the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention. Read more.

UCT lecture by Nobel Laureate Abhijit Banerjee

Image: University of Cape Town (UCT).

On April 29, co-founder of J-PAL (Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab) and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Abhijit Banerjee, spoke at UCT's virtual Vice-Chancellor’s Open Lecture about his book Good Economics for Hard Times, co-authored with Nobel laureate and J-PAL co-founder, Esther Duflo. During this lecture he discussed how economics can be harnessed for the common good to tackle today's global challenges, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more.

What should we expect from the 2021 GDP revisions?

Image: Burak K on Pexels.

South Africa’s national accounts were last rebased and benchmarked in 2014 (for years up to 2013). The next rebasing (from the current 2010 base year to 2015) should have been done in 2019, was rescheduled to 2020, but was deferred due to the unusual circumstances of the year. Publication of the 2018 supply and use tables was also deferred, and the March 2020 and March 2021 GDP estimates did not include the usual adjustments for prior years based on independent annual estimates. Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) indicated in March that rebased and benchmarked GDP estimates would be published by the end of May 2021, but there has been a further delay – StatsSA now says the 2015-based GDP estimates will be published in August.

The rebasing of the national accounts has, in the past, been accompanied by substantial upward revisions to both the level of GDP and prior growth rates. In 2014, the upward adjustment to 2010 real GDP was 2.8 per cent. In 2004 and 2009, real GDP for 2000 and 2005 respectively were revised up by 4 per cent and 2.1 per cent. Read more.

#SOSColombia: Remember Sharpeville? 

Image: Andrés Cardona, shared by Salym Fayad on Twitter.

Colombia has observed protests for the last few weeks, these protests led to the deaths of scores of civilians, the militarization of public spaces and internet blackouts in cities such as Cali. While these protests emerged in relation to the proposal of an increase on the value-added tax (VAT) for less wealthy citizens, the protests and the demands from citizens in the street illustrate the salience of deep inequalities informing the mobilizations. Read the Mail and Guardian article on this by Fabio Andrés Díaz Pabón and Maria Gabriela Palacio which was published on 11 May.

The human tragedy of South Africa’s inequality

Image: Chris John on Pexels.

Murray Leibbrandt contributed to New Frame’s New Economy project, with his article in this series being published on 17 May. The article discusses how inequality has become a particularly important development challenge over the last decade. Various dimensions and characteristics of inequality in South Africa are explained, including geography, social mobility and intergenerational mobility. Though South Africa’s policies have recognized the need to reduce inequality, the myriad policy responses have had only a limited effect and inequality remains high. A more coordinated approach which centers on addressing inequality is required. Read the article.

South Africa’s efforts to tackle joblessness can be more effective: here’s how

Image: Mohamed Hassan on Pixabay.

In April, The Conversation published an article written by Ariane De Lannoy, together with Lauren Graham and Leila Patel. The authors argue that assessing youth employability interventions based solely on job placement is inadequate, as this ignores other outcomes which are also important, particularly in environments of high structural unemployment. They argue for the use of a range of outcome indicators together with job placement, such as enhancement of job search resilience, promotion of self-esteem and self-efficacy, and reduction of discouragement. Read the article.


Inequality and the Socioeconomic Dimensions of Mobility in Protests: The Cases of Quito and Santiago

This article reflects on the role of mobility and its relation to precarity in the emergence of protests in both Quito (Ecuador) and Santiago (Chile) in 2019 by examining the interplay between mobility and inequality. It argues that the announced increases in transport and fuel costs in Chile and Ecuador exposed obstacles to spatial and social mobility and existing inequalities. The authors discuss how mobility and geography relate to patterns of structural marginalisation that are not necessarily evident from aggregate economic indicators, and how understanding inequality in terms of the ‘right to the city’ and access to public services explain the protests in both countries as a response to existing segregation and deep‐seated inequalities. Access here.

Citation: Díaz Pabón, F.A. and Palacio Ludeña, M.G., 2021. Inequality and the socioeconomic dimensions of mobility in protests: The cases of Quito and Santiago. Global Policy, 12, pp.78-90.

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


Farewell to Jonathan Atkinson

Jonathan Atkinson is leaving SALDRU at the end of May. Jon joined SALDRU in December 2017 as Senior Operations Director for the Land Restitution Evaluation Study (LRES) project. In June he is taking up the position of PI/Project coordinator East Africa for the International Soil Reference Information Centre at Stellenbosch University. We wish Jon all the best!

New SALDRU Youth Explorer Team Members

Large amounts of data on government provided services are being gathered and verified in a collaborative effort by SALDRU and OpenUp, supported by the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention and its partners. The work receives funding from the Capacity Building Programme for Employment Promotion - a key BPS partner funded by the European Union and based in the Government Technical Advisory Centre. More recently the World Bank allocated resources to provide short-term, intensive strengthening of the Youth Explorer team, from 1 May 2021 until the end of June 2021. Read more.

Historical inequalities and economic transformation in South Africa

Image: Screenshot of Prof. Vimal Ranchhod’s keynote address during the online debate.

This month, the African Centre of Excellence for Inequality Research (ACEIR), which is directed by SALDRU’s Prof. Murray Leibbrandt, co-hosted a debate which was organised by the French embassy in South Africa. The purpose of the event was to provide stakeholders with an opportunity to share their perspectives on South Africa’s inequalities and to motivate for priority action areas and policies in overcoming these inequalities. SALDRU’s deputy-director and convener of ACEIR’s South Africa node, Prof. Vimal Ranchhod, delivered the keynote address to the online audience. Read more about the event in this UCT News article or watch the recording of the webinar.

Inequality in South Africa is a ‘ticking timebomb’
UCT News, 21 May

Geospatial issues impact inequality levels in Southern Africa
Engineering News, 21 May
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