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Despite considerable success on many economic and social policy fronts over the past 19 years, South Africa faces a number of long-standing economic problems that still reflect at least in part the long‑lasting and harmful legacy of apartheid. Unemployment remains excessively high, educational outcomes are poor on average and extremely uneven, which aggravates the excess supply of unskilled labour as well as worsening income inequality. In addition, the prospects for sustained improvements in well-being are compromised by environmental challenges, notably climate change and water stress. South Africa needs to achieve rapid, inclusive economic growth while at the same time making the transition to a low-carbon economy and managing effectively the country’s scarce water resources. Tackling the key problems effectively will require continued skilful management of macroeconomic policies, but above all improved implementation of structural policies, with education being a particularly critical area.
In particular, the government should undertake the following structural reforms in view of achieving faster, more inclusive and more sustainable economic growth.:
- Per capita income growth has been slower than in most other major emerging economies
- Selected economic indicators
- The negative output gap is still widening
- Several economic indicators are still below pre-crisis peaks
- Households have struggled to reduce debt loads and rebuild net wealth
- Export commodity prices have turned down recently
- The cyclically adjusted deficit widened in the crisis and remains sizable
- Inflation has fluctuated with food and fuel prices, but core inflation has been stable
The complete edition of the Economic Survey of South Africa is available from:
For further information please contact the South Africa Desk at the OECD Economics Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Secretariat’s draft report was prepared by Geoff Barnard and Fabrica Murtin, under the supervision of Andreas Wörgötter. The draft has benefited from valuable background research by Yaseen Jhaveri, seconded from the South African National Treasury. Research assistance was provided by Corinne Chanteloup. The Survey also benefited from valuable background research by Nicola Branson and Murray Leibbrandt from SALDRU at the University of Cape Town, and by George Frempong, Dean Janse van Rensburg, Vijay Reddy and Lolita Winnaar from the Human Sciences Research Council.