New study on socio-economic effects and costs of incomplete secondary education

Image: kalhh/pixabay/cc

The DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Human Development hosted at Wits University awarded SALDRU a seed grant to collaborate on a study into the longer-term socio-economic effects and costs of incomplete secondary education.

In South Africa, young people who have not completed their matric year, or the equivalent thereof, are more likely to struggle to find work. They remain unemployed for longer periods of time and, if they do find work, are less likely to access stable, higher income jobs.

Internationally, a growing body of research indicates additional negative outcomes for youth who do not complete secondary education. These range from higher levels of poverty, to ill health (including mental health), substance abuse, delinquency, incarceration, and prolonged dependence on social assistance. These negative outcomes create an obvious concern for the loss of human potential for the individual herself. They also lead to questions about countries’ high rates of investment in educational systems and the effectiveness of those systems, and they are at the basis of concerns about the larger societal and economic costs of incomplete education.

This more nuanced understanding of the longer-term effects of incomplete high school education on individuals, communities and society at large is not as extensively available in South Africa. Therefore, the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Human Development, its partners DNA Economics, and SALDRU are interested in exploring these questions in a South African context.

The team will work towards building a multi-disciplinary research programme that will bring together a group of expert academics to:
1. Assess the kinds of research questions that are most relevant in the South African context.
2. Investigate what datasets are available that would allow the team to answer these questions.
3. Discuss what data gaps remain, and what can be done to fill those gaps.

The SALDRU principal investigators on the project are Nicola Branson and Ariane De Lannoy. They will work with graduate associates Amy Kahn and Jacqueline Mosomi, and Masters student Lukhanyo Velelo, to explore what we can learn from the existing literature and from datasets like the National Income Dynamics Study (NIDS) and the Post-Apartheid Labour Market Series (PALMS). A first research roundtable to present preliminary findings and discuss the way forward for the research programme will be organised in October 2018.

More dissemination of project outputs and pertinent issues coming from the research will follow as the project develops.