Annual Forum Papers

The Mystery of South Africa's Ghost Workers in 1996: Measurement and Mismeasurement in the Manufacturing Census...

  • Year: 2004
  • Author(s): Martin Wittenberg
  • Countries and Regions: South Africa

Absences can be as telling as presences, as Sherlock Holmes reminds us. Some times, however, it is difficult to know whether one is really dealing with an absence or not. In the case of South African labour economics some absences have attracted attention: the surprisingly small size of the informal sector, or the surprisingly small rate of job creation during the 1990s. To these mysteries can be added another: the disappearance of about 300 000 manufacturing workers from the 1996 population census.