SA-TIED hosts special session at ESSA Biennial Conference


SA-TIED hosted a special session at the Economic Society of South Africa's 2023 Biennial Conference, held from the 12th to the 14th of September at the CSIR Convention Centre in Pretoria. This event was a dynamic gathering of economists, collaborating and exploring economic topics. During the special session, SA-TIED researchers presented research that offered valuable economic insights and sparked engaging discussions. 

Below is an overview of the presentations that took place:


1. Michael Kilumelume: "The role of firms in the gender-wage gap"

Michael Kilumelume, a data developer at UNU-WIDER, presented research on the substantial influence of firms in determining worker wages, especially concerning the gender wage gap. By utilising anonymized administrative tax data for South Africa, Michael shed light on how firm-wage premia significantly contribute to the gender pay gap. The study's unique approach offers insights to potentially reduce this gap through structural changes in the labour force.

2. Marlies Piek: "VAT administration, firm behavior, and economic costs"

Marlies Piek, a Research Associate at UNU-WIDER, presented a study which aims to quantify the tradeoffs faced by South Africa in designing VAT administration. Given that refunds constitute a significant portion of gross VAT collection, Marlies' research provides a deep understanding of refund requests and their impact on tax revenue, compliance, and production efficiency. The study's unique approach, utilizing micro-level VAT data, promises valuable insights into VAT administration and its implications on the South African economy.

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3. Michelle Pleace: "The gender wage gap in South Africa: Insights from administrative tax data"

Michelle Pleace, a PhD candidate at the University of Pretoria, presented a study on the gender wage gap in South Africa. Utilizing administrative tax data, the research highlights the income differential between genders within the formal South African economy from 2008 to 2021. The study revealed a widening gender wage gap over time, emphasizing the need for efforts focusing on low-income categories and improving gender representation in senior management to bridge this disparity.

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4. Joshua Budlender: "Monopsony, wage floors, and structural transformation"

Joshua Budlender, an Economics PhD Candidate at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a Research Fellow at the University of Cape Town, presented a study on monopsonistic competition's role in determining wages and employment. The study highlights how firms with labour market power and binding wage floors absorb revenue-productivity increases as excess profits. This research is particularly significant in understanding firm behaviour within the South African context and its implications for economic development.


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The SA-TIED special session was a thought-provoking part of the ESSA Biennial Conference, highlighting innovative research and fostering collaborative efforts to drive positive change in the South African economic landscape.