Professor Servaas van der Berg was given the privilege of opening the 2013 Economic Society of South Africa Conference in Bloemfontein with a keynote address on the topic of education, poverty and affluence in the South African context. The address sourced insights gained from various ReSEP studies, giving a holistic overview not only of the purview of the research-scope of the group, but also of some of the most pressing socio-economic problems that the country is facing.
Van der Berg argued that the social mobility, which is needed to correct the inequality within South Africa, is hampered by the failure of the school system in converting resources to quality educational outcomes. In South Africa, labour market inequality accounts for about 80% of overall inequality. Given the large impact of education level and quality of individuals on their earnings, the two-tier schooling system is exacerbating the inequalities of the past by failing to produce skilled workers.
The performance of South African students has consistently been found to be far below the average of comparable countries, even with far more resources being allocated per student. According to van der Berg, as a result of functionality and accountability issues, increasing the resources brings little improvement in currently weak schools.
The root causes of these problems will remain for decades to come, so for the meantime he gives three policy recommendations: The current social grant system should be continued within fiscal constraints; the delivery of social services should be improved; and economic conditions conducive to for economic growth should be pursued.
The presentation is available here.
ReSEP members presented various other papers on socio-economic policy at the conference, including the following:
- Pierre de Villiers and Chris van Wyk, A longitudinal cohort analysis of Higher Education in South Africa
- Nwabisa Makaluza, Double-edged sword: Segmentation within the South African informal sector
- Kholekile Malindi, Wage effects of labour market experience and job tenure for black South African male workers
- Anja Smith and Ronelle Burger, Explaining the demand for medical scheme membership: implications for National Health Insurance (NHI)
- Ronelle Burger, Carmen McAvarey and Servaas van der Berg, The Capability Threshold: Re-Examining the Definition of the Middle Class in an Unequal Developing Country
- Debra Shepherd, Distributive effects of curriculum coverage in South Africa: an unconditional quantile regression approach
- Asmus Zoch, Life chances and class: Estimating inequality of opportunity in South Africa for various life stages
- Rulof Burger, Estimating the South African schooling-productivity profile: A production function approach
- Martin Gustafsson and Stephen Taylor, Treating schools to a new administration: The impact of South Africa’s 2005 provincial boundary changes on school performance
- Janeli Viljoen, Does falling behind lead to being left behind? – Evidence form the National School Effectiveness Study (2007-2009)
- Marisa Coetzee, Measuring the effect of school choice on the performance of disadvantaged learners: The case of South Africa
- Hendrik van Broekhuizen, Higher Education and Graduate Labour Market Status in South Africa
- Marisa Coetzee and Stephen Taylor, Estimating the impact of a switch in the language of learning and teaching in South African primary schools
- Stephen Taylor, The impact of study guides on matric performance: evidence from a randomised experiment
- Asmus Zoch, Understanding the underlying dynamics of the reservation wage for South African youth
- Cobus Burger, Using discrete choice dynamic programming to model job search and reservation wages in South Africa