Poverty and inequality effects of a high growth scenario in South Africa: A dynamic microsimulation CGE analysis

Stellenbosch Working Paper Series No. WP04/2007

Author(s): Ramos Mabugu, Margaret Chitiga

JEL Classification: D58, E27, F17, I32, O15, O55

Keywords: Sequential dynamic CGE, microsimulation, ASGISA, poverty, welfare, growth, South Africa

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The debate about the consequences of economic growth on poverty and welfare was recently rekindled in South Africa by announcements that the government would be targeting a sustainable growth rate of 6 percent per annum under the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (ASGISA). This paper uses a sequential dynamic computable general equilibrium model linked to a nationally representative household survey to assess the poverty and economic consequences of a higher economic growth scenario. The main findings are that higher economic growth induces reductions in poverty both in the short and long run. It enhances capital accumulation, particularly in the agriculture and textiles sectors. An interesting observation is that the Mining industry benefits the least from a high economic growth scenario. However, this is not related to domestic savings/investment. Mining is strongly dependent on foreign investments and the industry return to capital is less profitable to domestic institutions, particularly households and this is what explains the lower benefits to the sector. African and Coloured households reap most of the benefits, with greater gains among urban unskilled dwellers. These findings suggest that lifting of growth constraints rather than macroeconomic stimulation would induce higher growth with the resulting beneficial effects. Economic growth of the levels simulated does not appear to be inconsistent with macroeconomic balance, as reflected in price stability, balance of payments and sectoral effects.