With a 25% unemployment rate and a low labor force participation rate, only 4 out every 10 working age South Africans actually have jobs. The high unemployment figure combined with the low labor force participation rate goes far to explain why South Africa has the highest Gini coefficient in the world. This talk looks at the unemployment problem from various angles, including issues regarding wages, productivity, and the shift from low skilled to higher skilled labor. In addition, it examines unemployment conditions in the deep rural, mostly tribal areas that constituted the so-called Bantustans under the apartheid system. Join us for a presentation and conversation about today's issues and tomorrow's possibilities.
Co-sponsored by the Institute of African Studies and the African Development Group.
Philippe Burger is a 2016/17 Fulbright Exchange Scholar at Columbia University, working on the unemployment problem in South Africa. He is Professor of Economics and Head of Department at the University of the Free State. From September 2012 to October 2014 he was President of the Economic Society of South Africa. He is also a member of the South African Statistics Council, which overseas the work of Statistics South Africa. His publications include three books and numerous academic articles on fiscal rules and fiscal sustainability, public private partnerships and macroeconomic policy. Together with IMF staff he also co-authored two IMF working papers. In 2009 the IMF also invited him to spend a month at the IMF as a visiting scholar. In 2007, 2010 and 2012 he was seconded to the OECD in Paris to work on public private partnerships and capital budgeting, while in October 2011 he joined an OECD mission to Indonesia to conduct a regulatory review of Indonesia. He is a member of the Panel of Experts of the South African National Treasury, in which capacity he recently co-authored a 20-year review of South African fiscal policy since 1994.