Challenging inequalities through policy relevant academic research.


February 2021

Dear Friends,

The major news coming out of SALDRU this month has been the successful completion and release of Wave 3 of the NIDS-CRAM survey. This is a multi-university collaboration which includes substantial involvement from SALDRU, particularly in terms of implementation and oversight of data collection. SALDRU’s participation is led by Reza Daniels who is a Principal Investigator on the project. The SALDRU team has once again delivered an excellent dataset under difficult circumstances and with very tight deadlines, and we are extremely fortunate to have such an exceptional and committed team to rely on.

To coincide with the launch of the new data, the project commissioned a number of research papers. Saldrupians have been active researchers on this project too, with inputs on employment and the labour market, as well as on health. The major findings from the labour papers, which show a substantial increase in the employment levels after the disastrous job losses observed at the start of the pandemic, are cause for cautious optimism. Going forward it will be extremely important to investigate the types of employment dynamics for various groups of people, and how this may lead to permanent shifts in the way that our labour market is operating.

In other news, Muna Shifa wrote an article on the COVID-19 pandemic and the combined health and economic crisis in African countries, where she highlights the importance of developmental assistance in the short run combined with a need to improve domestic revenue collection in the medium and long run.

Best wishes,

Murray Leibbrandt
Director, SALDRU
Vimal Ranchhod
Deputy Director, SALDRU

Understanding employment dynamics in South Africa using the NIDS-CRAM survey

Image: TeroVersalainen on Pixabay.

February 17th 2021 marked the official release of the National Income Dynamics Study – Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (NIDS-CRAM) Wave 3 data. Several researchers highlighted important employment trends that suggested a partial but incomplete recovery to pre-pandemic (February, 2020) employment levels. One of the most important findings was that in October 2020 (Wave 3 of NIDS-CRAM), the employment rate for 18-64 year olds saw a partial recovery to the pre-lockdown levels observed in February 2020.

This led to a robust debate about whether this partial recovery was plausible or not, given other things that we know happened in the South African economy during the reference period of 2020. Inevitable comparisons were made to Statistics South Africa’s Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) in 2020, which is a survey designed to estimate nationally and provincially representative employment and unemployment levels and rates for four quarters of the year. But this is not a strictly valid comparison because the NIDS-CRAM and the QLFS are designed to do different things. In particular, the QLFS is designed to estimate nationally representative employment and unemployment rates, unlike the NIDS-CRAM survey. In this article Assoc. Prof. Reza Daniels focuses on what the NIDS-CRAM data can tell us about measuring employment in South Africa.


The missing 27 billion

Image: Kevin Schneider on Pixabay.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an unprecedented health and economic crisis. The financial gap for African countries has been further exacerbated during the pandemic and is likely to persist. Given the present precarious conditions of many developing countries, more and better effective use of Official Development Assistance (ODA) could play a crucial role in addressing the immediate impact of the pandemic. In the medium to long term, however, further increases in the mobilization of domestic revenue are critical for improving health systems and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Despite progress, the collection of tax revenue in Africa still faces many challenges. The continent could bridge a significant amount of its financing gaps by improving the management of corporate income taxes, eliminating unnecessary tax exemptions and curbing illicit financial flows. Read an Africa is a Country article about this by Muna Shifa.

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