- The causes of South Africa's unemployment are complex and go back decades
- They have their roots in the country's apartheid history, but this does not entirely explain it
- It is also driven by factors like the changing skills-intensive economy and investor fears
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South Africa has one of the highest unemployment rates on the planet.
It tends to hover around 25%, and is the cause of much political agitation.
But what are the causes of this unemployment?
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The reasons for South Africa's high unemployment are complex. A major reason is the country's apartheid legacy. Under apartheid, many black people were prevented from receiving a decent education or acquiring skills.
This ultimately contributed to an oversupply of cheap manual labour, according to The Daily Maverick.
Crucially, South Africa's oversupply of cheap manual labour has not been able to adapt to a changing skills-driven economy.
However, some argue that South Africa's history is not sufficient to explain the country's current unemployment crisis. After all, South Africa's economy actually grew impressively from the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s, before stagnating.
One of the reasons for this has been a major dip in investor confidence. Many investors, particularly foreign ones, are reluctant to pour capital into South Africa.
This is driven by insecure property rights, political instability, concerns about the reliability of young workers, as well as fears about corruption.
After all, an investor would be reluctant to invest in a farm, for example, if it feared that the property could be expropriated, thus depriving them of any return on investment.
Additionally, South Africa's strong unions and relatively high minimum wages have had many positive results, but some economists argue that they benefit the employed at the expense of the unemployed, especially in a country with such high joblessness.
They drive up the cost of labour and make employers more hesitant to hire more workers.
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This just scratches the surface of the reasons for South Africa's unemployment. What is clear, however, is that unemployment is a multi-faceted issue, and no quick fixes or simple policy changes will be able to solve it.
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