SALDRU is very pleased to announce that Vimal Ranchhod, SALDRU’s Deputy Director, has been promoted to full Professor with effect from July 1st, 2018. Ranchhod joined SALDRU as a post-doctoral fellow in 2008, after graduating with a PhD from the University of Michigan in the USA. Over the last five years, Vimal has worked in SALDRU as an NRF Research Career Advancement Fellowship awardee. This Fellowship programme is directed at supporting the development of South Africa’s promising young researchers into research leadership. His seamless transition to Professor serves as a very good example of this programme at work.
Prof. Ranchhod is an empirical economist with interests in labour markets, education and inequality. Since joining SALDRU, he has established himself as one of the leading labour economists in South Africa, with publications in highly ranked international field journals including the Journal of Development Economics, World Bank Economic Review and Economics of Education Review. Ranchhod strives to use his skills and knowledge to make a difference in society. He has been an active participant in various transformation related activities and discussions happening at UCT. At the national level, he has given input at multiple policy making venues including the National Planning Commission, NEDLAC and the National Treasury.
Of his many current projects, the one he finds most exciting involves estimating the economic effects of race during Apartheid. “Everyone knows that apartheid was unjust; White people had better schooling, residential locations, healthcare, transport infrastructure, job reservations, higher wages, broader business opportunities and access to finance. But even today, nobody can tell you by how much White people benefitted. Our study uses policy changes in the way that people got racially classified in order to identify the effect of being officially classified as White on socio-economic outcomes.” When asked why this would be important, Ranchhod replied, “We live in one of the most unequal countries in the world. We need to understand our history and how we got here, otherwise it will be almost impossible to design effective policies to move towards a more just and humane society.”
African Centre of Excellence for Inequality Research (ACEIR)
Looking forward, Ranchhod will be integral to the operations of the newly launched African Centre of Excellence for Inequality Research (ACEIR).
ACEIR’s first task is to take stock of what is known about inequality in the three regions that it currently works in. To begin with, ACEIR will focus on South, East and West Africa in line with the geographic locations of the hubs that are partners in the initiative. This is the starting point of what will eventually become a bigger network of people, research areas and expertise.
Initially, the project will examine growth in the economic sectors including the split between rural and urban areas. However, ACEIR’s long term agenda is also to understand the history and political economy of countries and regions.
It is challenging to provide a singular coherent theory that explains the African experience of inequality, because different countries have different growth paths and histories, Ranchhod said. In such a context, ACEIR seeks to recognise and work with the specifics of each country and region, as is warranted by the evidence.