Gender, education and the labour market

Around the world gender differentials in education have steadily reduced over time. South Africa has achieved universal primary and secondary school enrolment rates for males and females (OECD 2012) and girls move through school faster than boys and are less likely to drop out before completing grade 12 (Lam et al 2010; Van Wyk et al. 2017). Additionally, like many developed countries, a higher proportion of South African females enrol in tertiary education as compared to males. Recently Spaull and Van Broekhuizen (2017) have shown that not only are girls joining universities in larger numbers, they are also out pacing boys in graduation from universities. The question however remains as to what extent educational success of young women leads to gender equality in the labour market.

South African labour market studies report significant and persistent gender differences (Casale 2004; Van der Westhuizen et al. 2007; Ntuli and Wittenberg 2013; Mosomi 2019). Unemployment is worst among young people and women in particular. The unemployment rate for females aged 15-24 years was 60.5% in 2017 compared to 52.3% for similarly aged males. The median gender wage gap in the labour market is substantial ranging between 23 and 35 percent and has hardly shifted in the post-apartheid period (Mosomi 2019).

This project uses household and panel survey data to investigate why gender disparities in wages and employment persist in the South African labour market.

This project has received funding from the Kresge Foundation.