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Professor Haroon Bhorat

Director, DPRU, School of Economics, UCT   

Expertise: Labour Economics, Poverty, Income Distribution, Inclusive Growth, Minimum Wages​

Haroon Bhorat is Professor of Economics and Director of the DPRU. He holds an NRF B2 rating, and with a total citation estimate of over 7800 and an h-index of 47, he is one of the most cited South African economists globally.

He currently serves on the Presidential Economic Advisory Council (PEAC), established by President Ramaphosa to generate new ideas for economic growth, job creation and addressing poverty in South Africa. Prof. Bhorat holds the DST/NRF SARChI Chair in Economic Growth, Poverty and Inequality Research. He is a Non-resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution; a Research Fellow at IZA, the Institute for the Study of Labour in Bonn; and is a member of the UCT College of Fellows.

Serving in a variety of public roles ranging from high-level advisory work for government departments and multi-lateral institutions, to giving public lectures and seminar presentations at the world’s leading universities (including for example Columbia, Cornell, Yale and Oxford), Prof. Bhorat’s ability to seamlessly switch between conducting hard empirical analysis and providing evidence-based policy advice that is accessible to a broader audience, has had a direct impact on the discipline. His research feeds into policy decisions and pronouncements at the highest level, including Cabinet memoranda, State of the Nation Addresses and legislative promulgation. His work has been hugely influential in policy making in respect of poverty, inequality and labour market issues in South Africa.

He consults with international organizations such as the ILO, the UNDP, the World Bank, Ratings Agencies and emerging market fund managers. He sat on the Advisory Board of the UNDP’s 2019 and 2020 Human Development Reports, and was a member of the World Bank’s Advisory Board of the Commission on Global Poverty, as well as a member of the Program Committee of the 2017 International Economic Association (IEA) World Congress. He is a member on the Advisory Committee of the joint United Nations and World Bank Policy Study on the role of Development in the Prevention of Violent Conflict. He also sits on the UN/WHO’s High Level Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth. Haroon previously served as a member of the UN Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor (LEP), and was Head of Research for the UN’s High-Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

Prof. Bhorat has undertaken extensive work for several South African government departments – most notably the South African Department of Labour, the Presidency and the National Treasury, including an appointment as Advisor on the South African Parliament’s High Level Panel on Acceleration of Change and Transformation. He served as an economic advisor to two past Ministers of Finance including Min. Pravin Gordhan, and previous Presidents Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe, formally serving on the Presidential Economic Advisory Panel.

Prof. Bhorat sits on the editorial advisory board of the World Bank Economic Review, and he is a Board Member of the National Research Foundation (NRF) and UNU World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER), previously sitting on the HSRC Board. He has his PhD in Economics through Stellenbosch University, studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and was a Cornell University research fellow. Prof. Bhorat’s commitments at UCT include lecturing Advanced Labour Economics (Hons), and supervision to Honours, Masters and PhD students.

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Latest Research & Publications:

Webinars & Online interviews

Refereed Journals 

  1. Characterisation, definition, and measurement issues of the middle class in sub-Saharan Africa, Development Southern Africa, Published Online: 05 Jul 2021. (Co-authored with Kimani, M.E., Lappeman, J. and Egan, P.)
  2. Social Assistance Amidst the Covid-19 Epidemic in South Africa: A Policy Assessment. South African Journal of Economics 89: 63-81. First published: 04 January 2021. (Co-authored with Oosthuizen, M. and Stanwix, B.)
  3. Measuring Multidimensional Labour Law Violation, With an Application to South Africa. British Journal of Industrial Relations. 2020. (Co-authored with Kanbur, R., Stanwix, B. and Thornton, A.)
  4. Book review: "Inclusive Dualism: Labour intensive Development, Decent Work and Surplus Labour in Southern Africa", The Journal of Development Studies (FJDS) 56:10, pp: 1980-1981.
  5. Minimum wages in sub-Saharan Africa: A primer. The World Bank Research Observer, 32(1), Feb 2017 pp: 21-74. (Co-authored with Kanbur, R. and Stanwix, B.)
  6. IZA Journal of Labor & Development: Special Collection: Thematic series on Reforming Minimum Wage and Labor Regulation Policies in Developing Economies (2016). (Co-edited with Kanbur, R. and Shi, Li).
  7. Higher Education, Employment, and Economic Growth: Exploring the interactions. Development Southern Africa, LMIP Special Issue (2016) 33(3). (Co-authored with Cassim, A. and Tseng, D.)
  8. Minimum Wages and Youth: The Case of South Africa.  Journal of African Economies. Vol. 25, AERC Supplement 1, pp. i61–i102​. (Co-authored with Cassim, A., Kanbur, R., Stanwix, B. & Yu, D.)
  9. Partial Minimum Wage Compliance. IZA Journal of Labor & Development (2015) November, 4(18). (Co-authored with Kanbur, R. and Stanwix, B.)
  10. Estimating the Impact of Minimum Wages on Employment, Wages, and Non-wage Benefits: The Case of Agriculture in South Africa. American Journal of Agricultural Economics (2014) October, 96(5): 1402–1419 (Co-authored with Kanbur, R. and Stanwix, B.)

Books/chapters

  1. Changing Dynamics in the South African Labour Market. In: The Oxford Handbook of the South African Economy. Edited by Oqubay, A., Tregenna, F. and Valodia, I. Oxford University Press (FORTHCOMING: October 2021). (Co-authored with Stanwix, B. and Thornton, A.)
  2. Structural transformation, inequality, and inclusive growth in South Africa. In: The Developer’s Dilemma: structural transformation, inequality, and inclusive growth, UNU WIDER. (FORTHCOMING). (Co-authored with Oosthuizen, M., Steenkamp, F., Lilenstein, K. and Thornton, A.)
  3. The South African Labour Market. In: Better Choices for South Africa, Brenthurst Foundation, Edited by Bhorat, H., Jonas, M. and Mills, G. (FORTHCOMING) (Co-authored with Stanwix, B.)
  4. An Empirical Assessment of the National Minimum Wage in South Africa. In: State of the Nation: Ethics and Politics of South Africa’s Struggle Against Poverty and Inequality, Edited by Bohler-Muller, N., Soudien, C. and Reddy, V. HSRC Press, February 2021. Chapter 7, pp. 154-172. (Co-authored with Kanbur, R. and Stanwix, B.)
  5. Bhorat, H., Pillay Bell, N. and Asmal, Z. (2021). Higher Education Outcomes in South Africa: The Role of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme. In: Social Justice and Education in the 21st Century: Research from South Africa and the United States; Eds: Pearson, W. and Reddy, V. Part of the Diversity and Inclusion Research book series (DIRE) Springer. April 2021. Chapter 9, pp. 171-194.
  6. Labour Market Policy Responses amidst Globalisation: The Case of South Africa. In: Making Globalization more inclusive: Lessons from experience with adjustment policies. 2019 Edited by: Bacchetta, M., Milet, E. and Monteiro, J. Chapter 7, pp.163-182. WTO: Geneva. (Co-authored with Lilenstein, K. and Steenkamp, F.)
  7. Sub-Saharan Africa’s Manufacturing Sector: Building Complexity. In: The Quality of Growth in Africa, Columbia University Press. August 2019. Edited by: Kanbur, R., Noman, A. and Stiglitz, J.E. Chapter 8. (Co-authored with Kanbur, R., Rooney, C. and Steenkamp, F.)
  8. Shadow State: The Politics of State Capture, edited by: Chipkin, I. and Swilling, M. Wits University Press, 2018. (Co-authored with Buthelezi, M.; Chipkin, I.; Duma, S.; Friedenstein, H.; Mondi, L.; Peter, C.; Prins, N.; Qobo, M. and Swilling, M.)
  9. Understanding and characterizing the services sector in South Africa: An overview. In: Industries Without Smokestacks: Industrialization in Africa Reconsidered, Oxford University Press, 2018. Edited by: Tarp, F., Newfarmer, R. and Page, J. Chapter 14, pp: 275-295. (Co-authored with Rooney, C. and Steenkamp, F.)
  10. Income Inequality Trends in sub-Saharan Africa: Divergence, determinants and consequences. UNDP 2017, New York. 
    (Co-edited with Conceição, P., Cornia, G.A., and Odusola, A.)
  11. Policy co-ordination and growth traps in a middle-income country setting: The case of South Africa. In: The Practice of Industrial Policy, edited by John Page and Finn Tarp. Oxford University Press 2017. Chapter 11, pp 211-233. (Co-authored with Cassim, A. and Hirsch, A.)
  12. The Pursuit of Long-Run Economic Growth in Africa: Key Challenges. In: Africa's Lions: Growth Traps and Opportunities for Six African Economies, Brookings Press 2016. Co-edited with Finn Tarp. Chapter 1, pp 1-36. (Co-authored with Tarp, F.)
  13. Book: Oxford Companion to the Economics of South Africa. Oxford University Press. 2014. (Co-edited with Hirsch, A., Kanbur, R. and Ncube, M.)

​Collaborative Working Papers

  1. Employment creation potential, labor skills requirements, and skill gaps for young people: A South African case study. Brookings Institution, AGI Working Paper #26, January 2021. (Co-authored with Allen, C., Asmal, Z., Hill, R., Monnakgotla, J., Oosthuizen, M. and Rooney, C.)
  2. Growth and Structural Change: Implications for Income Inequality in Developing Countries. Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung – FES Study, October 2020. (Co-authored with Asmal, Z. and Allen, C.)
  3. Social assistance during South Africa’s national lockdown: Examining the COVID-19 grant, changes to the Child Support Grant, and post-October policy options. NIDS-CRAM Wave 2 Working Paper 2020/09, Sept 2020. (Co-authored with Köhler, T.)
  4. Covid-19, social protection, and the labour market in South Africa. Are social grants being targeted at the most vulnerable?. NIDS-CRAM Wave 1 Working Paper 2020/06, July 2020. (Co-authored with Köhler, T.)
  5. Wage Polarization In A High-Inequality Emerging Economy: The Case Of South Africa. WIDER Working Paper 2020/55. Helsinki: UNU-WIDER. (Co-authored with Lilenstein, K., Oosthuizen, M. and Thornton, A.)
  6. Structural transformation, inequality, and inclusive growth in South Africa. WIDER Working Paper 2020/50. Helsinki: UNU-WIDER. (Co-authored with Hill, R., Lilenstein, K. and Thornton, A.)
  7. Job spells in an emerging market: Evidence from apartheid and post-apartheid South Africa. WIDER Working Paper 2020/27. Helsinki: UNU-WIDER. (Co-authored with Lilenstein, K., Oosthuizen, M. and Thornton, A.)
  8. Employment creation potential, labor skills requirements, and skill gaps for young people: A methodological framework, Brookings AGI Working Paper #25, 4 March 2020. (Co-authored with Allen, C., Asmal, Z., Hill, R. and Rooney, C.

DPRU Working Papers:

  1. Can cash transfers aid labour market recovery? Evidence from South Africa’s special COVID-19 grant. Development Policy Research Unit Working Paper 202108. (Co-authored with Köhler, T).
  2. COVID-19 and the labour market: Estimating the employment effects of South Africa’s national lockdown. Development Policy Research Unit Working Paper 202107. (Co-authored with Köhler, T., Hill, R. and Stanwix, B.).
  3. The Potential Employment Implications of the Fourth Industrial Revolution Technologies: The Case of the Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services Sector. Development Policy Research Unit Working Paper 202106. (Co-authored with Allen Whitehead, C. Hill, R., Köhler, T. and Steenkamp, F.).
  4. Understanding Economic Complexity: An Application to the MER Sector. Development Policy Research Unit Working Paper 202105. (Co-authored with Allen Whitehead, C.).
  5. The Impact of the National Minimum Wage in South Africa: Early Quantitative Evidence. Development Policy Research Unit Working Paper 202104. (Co-authored with Lilenstein, A. and Stanwix, B.).
  6. Employment creation potential, labor skills requirements, and skill gaps for young people: A South African case study. WP 202102. (Co-authored with Allen, C., Asmal, Z., Hill, R., Monnakgotla, J., Oosthuizen, M. and Rooney, C.)
  7. Social assistance during South Africa’s national lockdown: Examining the COVID-19 grant, changes to the Child Support Grant, and post-October policy options. WP 202009. (Co-authored with Köhler, T.)
  8. COVID-19, social protection, and the labour market in South Africa: Are social grants being targeted at the most vulnerable? WP 202008. (Co-authored with Köhler, T.)
  9. The Employment Tax Incentive Scheme in South Africa: An Impact Assessment. WP 202007. (Co-authored with Hill, R., Khan, S., Lilenstein, K and Stanwix, B.)
  10. Social Assistance Amidst the Covid-19 Epidemic in South Africa: An Impact Assessment. WP 202006. (Co-authored with Oosthuizen, M. and Stanwix, B.)