Why hasn’t South Africa done well?

Dani Rodrik reports:

South Africa has undergone a remarkable transformation since its
democratic transition in 1994, but economic growth and employment
generation have been disappointing.  Most worryingly, unemployment is
currently among the highest in the world. While the proximate cause of
high unemployment is that prevailing wages levels are too high, the
deeper cause lies elsewhere, and is intimately connected to the
inability of the South African to generate much growth momentum in the
past decade.  High unemployment and low growth are both ultimately the
result of the shrinkage of the non-mineral tradable sector since the
early 1990s.  The weakness in particular of export-oriented
manufacturing has deprived South Africa from growth opportunities as
well as from job creation at the relatively low end of the skill
distribution.  Econometric analysis identifies the decline in the
relative profitability of manufacturing in the 1990s as the most
important contributor to the lack of vitality in that sector.

Here is a non-gated version of the paper.  The bottom line is that South Africa is de-industrializing. 


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