Current Research

Occupational Trends in South Africa

The paper opens by showing the quality of the occupations data in the Post-Apartheid Labour Market Series (PALMS). We show how the occupations variables can be labelled with the South African Standard Classification of Occupations (SASCO) and cleaned.

In our analysis we describe the apparent trends in the proportional distribution of employment by occupation, and occupational earnings, investigating the extent of polarization in the South African labour market. We find weak evidence for polarization of aggregate earnings by occupation, where the middle third of the distribution has squeezed slightly but not dropped out. Polarization has been driven primarily by mean wage changes, except for corporate managers where there has been a significant increase in employment.

We attach skill categories (from the O*NET content model) to occupation categories in order to observe skill variation in the labour market data. Our aims are to show, in the South African context, how the earnings returns to skill categories have changed over time, and what market premia exist for occupations over and above wage explanatory variables.

Social Insurance

The Temporary Employee/Employer Relief Scheme (TERS) distributed payments to furloughed workers in South Africa, during the covid-19 lockdown. This paper investigates, across industries, what proportion of Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) contributors were covered by the scheme, and how TERS payments were distributed across the earnings distribution. We find that, because the UIF is a contributory social insurance scheme, mainly middle- and upper-income earners benefited from TERS.

TERS policy brief (Donaldson): second half of the paper.

Future research interests