South Africa’s income inequality is one of the highest in the world, and the wealth inequality even higher. This is an area of research in which the Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit (SALDRU), School of Economics, has excelled for more than a decade. A recent symposium examined SALDRU’s findings on social mobility and inequality with presentations focusing on the multidimensionality of inequality in South Africa, the impact of inequality on the country’s youth, and the dynamics of the top end of the income distribution.
Inequality, (under)employment and the labour market, with a particular focus on youth, were the theme of an international conference hosted by UCT’s Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance recently in collaboration with the Inequalities Institute, London School of Economics. Leading thinkers such as Prof. Ernest Aryeetey (African Research Universities Alliance); Hilma Mote (African Labour Research and Education Institute, University of Johannesburg); Prof. Carlos Lopes (Mandela School, UCT); Prof. Ruth Hall (Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies, University of the Western Cape); and former Finance Minister, Hon. Prof. Trevor Manuel, discussed possible solutions to address inequality in Africa.
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) represent a global commitment to fostering sustainable development by 2030. Highly ambitious, the 17 high-level SDGs, 169 targets, and 232 indicators pose significant challenges to politicians, policymakers, researchers, and activists. The subject of inequality appears throughout the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, both directly and indirectly, and many goals and targets of the SDGs are clearly linked to inequality. Several leading researchers at UCT have been involved in the SDG process since 193 world leaders committed to the goals in 2015. Prof. Tom Moultrie, director of the Centre for Actuarial Research in the Faculty of Commerce, has been closely involved in considering what data are needed for measuring and monitoring the progress towards meeting the SDGs. He has shared with the PII some reflections on his roles in this important process.
The #FMF debate has been dominated by calls for completely free higher education for all, or at least for a larger proportion of students. Such funding models, however, would create material unfairness and divert scarce resources away from projects more likely to combat inequality. They also would risk undermining social cohesion through divisive and stigmatising means testing. These were some of the points Dr George Hull, a member of PII’s workstream on social cohesion, made during a day of expert testimony to the Commission of Inquiry into Higher Education and Training (Fees Commission). Dr Hull has been advocating for a universal loan model with income contingent repayment as the fairest and most efficient way of ensuring adequate access to higher education without undermining social cohesion.