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African Successes, Volume IGovernment and Institutions$
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Sebastian Edwards, Simon Johnson, and David N. Weil

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226316222

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226316369.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 17 October 2019

Fifteen Years On

Fifteen Years On

Household Incomes in South Africa

Chapter:
(p.333) 9 Fifteen Years On
Source:
African Successes, Volume I
Author(s):

Murray Leibbrandt

James Levinsohn

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226316369.003.0011

This paper uses national household survey data to examine changes in real per capita incomes in South Africa between 1993 and 2008; the start and the end of the first fifteen years of post-apartheid South Africa. These data show an increase in average per capita real incomes across the distribution. Over this period growth has been shared, albeit unequally, across almost the entire spectrum of incomes. However, kernel density estimations make clear that these real income changes are not dramatic and inequality has increased. We conduct a series of semi-parametric decompositions in order to understand the role of endowments and changes in the returns to these endowments in driving these observed changes in the income distribution. This analysis highlights the positive role played by changes in endowments such as access to education and social services over the period. If these endowment changes were all that changed in South Africa over the post-apartheid period, we would have seen a pervasive rightward shift of the distribution of per capita real incomes. In the rest of the paper we explore why this did not happen.

Keywords:   economic growth, income growth, South Africa, employment, education, endowments

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