ACEIR Research Day spotlights inequality in Ghana, Kenya and South Africa

Researchers who digitally attended the ACEIR Research Day. Image: ACEIR.

This month, a team of SALDRU researchers and research associates presented several research papers that were being produced in partnership with the African Centre of Excellence in Inequality Research (ACEIR). These were discussed at a half-day virtual research day that brought together 25 researchers from ACEIR’s Ghanaian, Kenyan and South African nodes.

SALDRU director, Murray Leibbrandt, is also the director of ACEIR, which was launched in 2018 as one of the 13 centres of excellence of the African Research Universities Alliance.

While the University of Cape Town hosts the ACEIR hub as well as the South African node (both based in SALDRU), other research nodes are based at the University of Ghana, Legon (Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research) and the University of Nairobi (School of Economics).

The ACEIR research that was presented focused on these three countries and spanned a broad and diverse range of inequality research topics such as micro-level consumption inequality, earnings inequality, inequality of opportunity and educational outcomes, and night-time lights inequality.

The papers presented by SALDRU researchers included:

  • Earnings inequality over the life-course in South Africa
    Vimal Ranchhod, Rocco Zizzamia
  • If you only have a hammer, everything looks like a nail: Grounding Atkinson‘s “thinking outside of the box” framework for studying inequality in Africa
    Fabio Diaz, Murray Leibbrandt, Vimal Ranchhod, Mike Savage
  • COVID-19 lockdown readiness and vulnerability indicators: the case of South Africa
    Muna Shifa, Anda David, Murray Leibbrandt

A fourth SALDRU paper, which has addressed the current COVID-19 disaster, was held over for a future ACEIR seminar due to time constraints:

  • Repurposing social assistance as emergency relief
    Ihsaan Bassier, Joshua Budlender, Rocco Zizzamia, Murray Leibbrandt, Vimal Ranchhod

Presentations from the Ghanaian and Kenyan nodes of ACEIR dealt with:

  • Understanding the relationship between economic inequality and inequality of opportunity and education outcomes in Ghana
    Monica Lambon-Quayefio, Robert Darko Osei, Isaac Osei-Akoto, Abena Oduro
  • Exploring the dynamics of micro-level consumption inequality: The case of Ghana
    Nkechi Owoo, Robert Darko Osei, Stephen Afranie
  • Fiscal incidence, inequality and poverty In Kenya: A CEQ assessment
    Germano Mwabu, Reuben Mutegi, Moses Muriithi, Samuel Kipruto, Damiano Manda

The SALDRU researchers reported that, similar to the Kenyan team, they have embarked on an assessment of the consequences of South Africa’s system of taxes and transfers on inequality and poverty. For this, both countries were using methodology developed by the Commitment to Equity (CEQ) Institute. The institute’s Maya Goldberg, who joined the webinar, was collaborating with SALDRU researchers from the South African node to finalise the national data sets that will be used for the analysis, including income tax data.

The research paper on COVID-19 lockdown readiness and vulnerability offered an interesting insight into spatial inequality in South Africa as was revealed by the pandemic. Two approaches were used to analyse General Household Survey data: a lockdown readiness gauge (measuring access to electricity, safe drinking water, a safe toilet, a phone in the household, at least one employed person), and a set of vulnerability indicators (from a vulnerability index developed by Prof Dave Gordon of the Townsend Centre for International Poverty Research at the University of Bristol).

The research day afforded the teams an opportunity to receive feedback on their work, and each of the papers presented at the research day are now being finalised and will be published as ACEIR working papers in the coming months. Visit the ACEIR website to sign up to be notified about this and other news.