Annual Forum Papers

Policies to Promote Growth and Employment in South Africa

  • Year: 2001
  • Author(s): Jeffrey D. Lewis

This study is published by the World Bank in its informal series of Discussion Papers on the South African Economy. It draws on research supported by discussions and interaction with staff from a wide range of South African institutions.

Since 1994, South Africa has made undeniable progress across a number of critical areas. On the political front, democratic institutions are well established, and the 're-invention' of government that is continuing through the creation of new tiers of government (provincial and local) has changed the environment for governance and service delivery. On the economic front, the government has pursued policies that have restored and maintained macroeconomic stability in the context of a difficult global environment.

But despite these areas of success, there exists a widespread perception that South Africa's economic performance since 1994 has been disappointing. Real GDP growth has been erratic, formal sector job losses have continued unabated, and the key objectives of poverty reduction and improved service delivery remain largely unmet.

This study examines the pressing challenge of generating sustainable growth, job creation, and poverty reduction in South Africa. In doing so, it draws on a broad range of analysis and research on related topics undertaken by World Bank staff over the last few years, as well as work by other researchers in South Africa and elsewhere. The underlying message is that the challenge facing South Africa will not be solved by one (or more) 'quick fix' solutions, but instead demands concerted initiatives across a range of issues that reflect the underlying dependencies and 'interconnectedness' of the economy. We hope that this study (and its supporting materials) can contribute to the discussions and debate that will help South Africa move forward towards a better future.