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We are one of the oldest Economics departments on the continent and one of the largest in the university. We are dedicated to quality research and teaching, with a focus on economic issues pertaining to South Africa and Africa. For any information not on this site, please contact the [protected email address] .

The Department of Economics at Stellenbosch University turned a hundred years old in 2020. Visit the centenary website to travel through a hundred years of history with us, and for more information on the celebratory activities.

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Professors Leonard Wantchekon and James Robinson awarded honorary doctorates

Posted by Johan Fourie on 2024-04-02

Stellenbosch University awarded honorary Doctor of Commerce degrees to economic experts Professors Leonard Wantchekon and James Robinson during its March 2024 graduation ceremonies for their contributions to economics and academic collaboration in the global south, particularly Africa.

Wantchekon, a Princeton University professor recognized for his work in political economy, development economics, and economic history, expressed his commitment to enhancing academic institutions in Africa. He founded the African School of Economics in Benin to support emerging African economists and policymakers.

Robinson, associated with the University of Chicago, was honored for his research in quantitative economic history in South Africa and his involvement in projects focusing on women's political participation in sub-Saharan Africa. He emphasized the importance of his partnership with SU and his efforts to integrate PhD students into the university's innovative research initiatives.

 

Prof Dieter von Fintel shares insights about people, place and development at inaugural lecture

Posted by Melt van Schoor on 2023-10-25

(From left: Prof Ada Jansen, Prof Stan du Plessis, Prof Dieter von Fintel, Prof Ingrid Woolard, Prof Pieter von Wielligh)

Another professorial inaugural event in the Department of Economics took place last week. At this event, it was time to honour prof Dieter von Fintel's research career and appointment as professor. His address to colleagues and guests brought together a huge number of interesting findings from his extensive and diverse research including numerous collaborations with students and academics both local and from around the world.

The topics reflected his specialisation as an econometrician, thus focusing on the use of empirical data to answer deep questions about -- as he delineated it -- people, places and development. He looked at questions like the effects of very early childhood and intergenerational transmission mechanisms affecting economic outcomes in later life, inequality, minimum wages, affirmative action, migration, institutions and many others. A pervasive and very difficult recurrent question is whether seemingly entrenched trends with deep historical roots can be reversed, a question of obvious and vital importance to the development of South Africa.

Prof Von Fintel shared thoughtful insights along the way reflecting his approach to Economics, including the values of honesty, humility, depth and rigour in research. In his words, "we need to acknowledge that there is a lot we don’t know, and that our systems are terribly imperfect to solve humanity’s pressing problems, even if we have made substantial progress at reducing poverty. Our systems fail and ideology cannot cure us of our (in)humanity. My hope is for a world less polarised, more fact-based and more human."

You can view the inaugural address online (click here).

Click here for more information on Prof von Fintel on the university news blog.

 

Prof Ada Jansen: South Africa can still improve its revenue-raising capabilities

Posted by Melt van Schoor on 2023-10-09

(Picture: Profs Estian Calitz, Stan du Plessis, Ada Jansen, Nico Koopman, Ingrid Woolard and Michael Graham)

Prof Ada Jansen, chair of the Department of Economics at Stellenbosch University, recently delivered her inaugural professorial address to an audience of academics and guests at a function celebrating this important academic milestone. The topic of her address was "Tax revenue and development in South Africa: two sides of the same coin?"

Prof Jansen reiterated the important link between adequate fiscal resources for government to achieve essential developmental objectives including reduction in inequality and poverty, good health services and quality education, before asking whether South Africa, despite its favourable tax collection performance, is raising revenues as efficiently as possible. This question is especially pertinent given the current unfavourable economic and fiscal outlook. The answer is that there are still important gaps that can be addressed that could boost revenue without necessarily increasing tax rates. She continued by discussing policy reform options such as reducing or eliminating tax expenditures that that do not generate plausible social benefits (arguing for a comprehensive reconsideration of the merits of tax incentives), altering the tax treatment of retirement fund contributions, reconsidering VAT zero-rating and further improvements in tax administration.

An important caveat is that revenue reforms unaccompanied by appropriate choices on the expenditure side of the state’s budget, coupled with the institutional and administrative capacity to execute them, is unlikely to promote development effectively. In conclusion, Prof Jansen referenced preliminary research results from a behavioural perspective suggesting that willingness to contribute is not lacking, which bodes well for the future.

Click here to read more about Prof Ada Jansen on the University's news blog

 

Stellenbosch Hosts Third Pretoria-Stellenbosch PhD Workshop in Economics

Posted by Melt van Schoor on 2023-08-14

Thamsanqa Nhlapo (University of Pretoria) presenting his paper “Minerals, Sectoral Linkages and Structural Transformation in a Small Open Economy”.

A very successful PhD Economics workshop, the third in a series organized jointly by the Departments of Economics at Pretoria and Stellenbosch, was recently hosted by Stellenbosch University on its campus.

The workshop managed to attract close to 30 paper submissions by PhD students and postdocs from universities across the country, of which eight were accepted for the workshop programme. Papers were presented on topics ranging from health economics, macroeconomics, finance to labour economics. (Click here to download the programme.)

 

Prof Rachel Jafta discusses AI in the World of Business

Posted by Johan Fourie on 2023-08-01

Prof Rachel Jafta will be a panellist on a forum that discusses the transformative power of artificial intelligence in the World of Business. See below the invitation to join the discussion.

 

Dr Nchake a panelist on Leader's Angle

Posted by Johan Fourie on 2023-04-25

The current situation in South Africa feels more and more like the 1980s: growing social division, high levels of tension and violence, even claims of terrorism and calls for a state of emergency. And undoubtedly, the situation of the poor has not changed commensurately with the promises of our new Constitution.

As we look forward to Freedom Day on the 27th of April and Workers Day on the 1st of May, the question becomes: “Is there still room to navigate an economic transition without ever-increasing destructive conflict and violence? And if so, how?”

As in the 1980s, we can probably predict that simply hoping government will change is an insufficient strategy, and that the rest of us will have to commit to an active role in collaborative action...

Book now to join the Leader’s Angle Series event where Prof Brian Ganson will lead a discussion with esteemed speakers Mr Jay Naidoo, Dr Theuns Eloff, Mrs Lesego Serolong Holzapfel and Dr Mamello Nchake that explores solutions towards peaceful economic transformation in South Africa.

 

Christian Franken awarded 2nd place in Budget Speech Competition

Posted by Melt van Schoor on 2023-04-24

Once again, a student in the Department did very well in the Nedbank and Old Mutual Budget Speech Competition. Christian Franken, who completed an Honours degree in Economics last year, was awarded the first runner-up place in the postgraduate category of the 2022 competition. Franken won this achievement for his essay entry on the topic, "Evaluate the impact of public infrastructure investment on economic growth based on South Africa’s post-2000 experience. Discuss the impact of this on the prospects for economic growth in the medium term."

Asked about his achievement, Franken expressed pride and indicated that the competition was fierce, with a lot of exceptional young economists competing. As part of the process, finalists got to meet executives and senior-level managers at Nedbank and Old Mutual, as well as the Finance Minister, Enoch Godongwana at a gala dinner and Franken also indicated the great value in meeting and interacting with the other finalists. Thanks are due to Hylton Hollander from the Department of Economics at Stellenbosch University for motivation, giving tips and making the experience "less daunting and genuinely enjoyable".

 

Awards ceremony recognizes top performers

Posted by Johan Fourie on 2023-04-11

The department hosted its annual Welcoming and Prize-giving function on Wednesday 1 March 2023 to welcome our new intake of postgraduate students and to award prizes to the top performing Economics students in the 2022 academic year. We are very grateful to Economic Research Southern Africa (ERSA) and Genesis Analytics for also sponsoring prizes. Craig Lemboe, Senior Researcher from the Bureau of Economic Research and alumnus (and prospective PhD student) from the Department of Economics was the guest speaker at the event. He gave a very inspiring talk about his journey as economist and left the audience with some very valuable food for thought.

 

Willem Boshoff considers whether competition policy still serves consumers' needs

Posted by Melt van Schoor on 2023-03-16

On World Consumer Day, Prof Willem Boshoff reflects on competition policy and its effectiveness in the face of multiple objectives not necessarily focused on the wellbeing of consumers.

Click here to read the article on Business Day.

 

Prof Willem Boshoff's inaugural lecture: Competition policy in South Africa

Posted by Melt van Schoor on 2022-11-23

Prof Willem Boshoff, Co-Director of the Centre for Competition Law and Economics in the Department of Economics at Stellenbosch University, recently delivered his inaugural lecture titled “Not at the races: Competition and competition policy in South Africa".

As one of the foremost experts in industrial organization and competition policy, and having been involved as consultant in numerous cases before the competition authorities, Prof Boshoff is a unique position to give an up-to-date, practical and thoughtful perspective. In the inaugural lecture, he argued a number of simple but far-reaching points, firstly that competition is critical to economic growth, but also that competition is not something that can easily be measured by simple proxies such as firm size (which itself is difficult to guage) and associated concentration levels. Instead, what really matters is whether consumers have effective alternative options to choose from, thus indicating that a thorough understanding of the relevant market in which a firm operates is vital to understanding effective competition in each market. Another important point is that effecive competition, thus measured, is very often reduced in markets characterised by government intervention (or outright monopolization). Appropriately focused competition policy is therefore key to supporting an acceleration in investment and growth in the country.

Prof Boshoff has been a lecturer in the Department since 2006. A short interview in connection with the inaugural lecture has been published on the University's news blog.

 

Stellenbosch teams win top prizes in 2022 Young Economist competition

Posted by Melt van Schoor on 2022-11-18

In this year's Young Economist competition, in which teams of first year students from the Universities of Cape Town, the Western Cape and Stellenbosch compete to accurately forecast economic variables such as CPI inflation, GDP growth, commodity prices and exchange rates, Stellenbosch University students claimed all three of the top three prizes in the competition (sponsored by Die Burger).

The winners were: In third place Teuns De Wet Keuzenkamp (team name "Bright Battalion"), in second place Tshulani Hopewell Khosa ("Schüssler's epitome") and this year’s winner, Britney Middleton ("Marginal Matters"). (In the picture above, from left to right, Teuns, Britney and Tshulani).

The competition has shown growth this year with 59 teams and 101 students entering, a sharp increase compared to the COVID-19 years. The prize giving event was held at Media24’s Nasdak venue on the 19th of October where Willem Jordaan (editor of Die Burger), Prof Rachel Jafta and Tracey Solomon (economist at the BER) addressed the particpants.

 

Top Economics students awarded prizes

Posted by Melt van Schoor on 2022-09-21

For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Economics was able to hold a prize giving function in person to honour our top undergraduate and postgraduate students from the previous year. In the undergraduate category, the top two students in each year group were:

First year students:

1. Hans Roux Hays
2. Ilke Botes

Second year students:

1. Sarah Christine Woolard
2. Tannah Swart

Third year students:

1. Tyshae Beth Buxton
2. Sarah Ann Tocknell

Tocknell was also additionally awarded the Cloete medal for the best student in Economics over three years of undergraduate study.

The prize for the top honours student went to Andrea Gauna (left in picture above) and second place to Joanna Smith. Jeanne Terblanche (second from the right) won the prize for the best Master's student, followed by Jérôme Dolling in second place. The Cloete medal for best postgraduate student in Economics also went to Andrea Gauna.

In addition to the departmental prizes, additional prizes to the top students were awarded by Genesis Analytics and by ERSA.

 

Mamello Nchake: 'Digital Agriculture' can be key to success for women in agriculture

Posted by Melt van Schoor on 2022-09-05

Dr Mamello Nchake, senior lecturer in Economics, recently wrote about the potential of digital tools to provide numerous advantages to women in agriculture and agribusinesses that could lead to success despite significant barriers due to unequal access to land and other resources they face. She points out, for example, that women are responsible for 70% the food produced on the African continent despite having less access to land, capital, networks and credit relative to men. Digital technologies can overcome informational and network challenges women face, so programmes to improve access to digital training and technology can consequently offer good social returns.

Read more in her article on Daily Maverick or listen to this interview podcast posted on talks@stellenboschuni.

 

Ronelle Burger featured by International Economic Association in May

Posted by Johan Fourie on 2022-05-13

Prof Ronelle Burger is the International Economic Association's featured economist in May. Prof Burger is professor of economics in the department and part of the department’s Research on Socioeconomic Policy Group (RESEP). The full interview with Prof Burger can be read here.

 

Dieter von Fintel: There's no 'Great Resignation' in South Africa

Posted by Melt van Schoor on 2022-05-08

In a recent article published in Mail & Guardian, Prof Dieter von Fintel from the Department of Economics argues that it is largely misleading to suggest that the trend of rising resignations and high labour turnover observed in the USA has made strong inroads into the South African economy. The South African labour market, by contrast, continues to be characterised by a harsh environment for job-seekers, and most workers simply do not have the luxury of leaving their jobs voluntarily because the prospects of better employment remains elusive in the South African context.

Read the full article here.

 

Ada Jansen new chair of Department

Posted by Johan Fourie on 2022-04-27

Prof Ada Jansen stepped into the big shoes of Prof Andrie Schoombee, who retired in 2021, when she was appointed Head of Department in January 2022. She will serve a five-year term.

Prof Jansen joined the Department in July 2004. Although her initial field of interest was Environmental Economics – with her paper on 'Water demand and the urban poor in Cape Town', published with C Schulz in the South African Journal of Economics, of particular interest  – her research interest has since shifted to Public Economics with a focus on taxation. Over the last decade, prof Jansen has applied the principles of Public Economics to a broad set of research questions: from the public finances of the Dutch Cape Colony to, most recently, estimates of South Africa's personal income tax. It is for this reason that she was appointed by the Minister of Finance in 2017/2018 on the Independent Panel for the review of the list of zero-rated VAT items.

Prof Jansen also has an active interest in research on teaching, with several papers published about the factors that contribute to student success. It is this interest that inspires her to build on the legacy of her HoD forerunners. Says prof Jansen: 'My vision for the department is to continue (and improve on) delivering high-quality teaching and learning, and policy-relevant research that will prepare a diverse student body for future endeavours and contribute to the betterment of society.'

Prof Jansen is the first female and the first black scholar to head the Economics Department.

 

Stellenbosch students win prizes for Budget Speech Essay competition

Posted by Melt van Schoor on 2022-03-23

Two students from the Department of Economics, Tiaan de Swardt and Ryan Young, did exceptionally well in the Nedbank and Old Mutual Budget Speech Competition this year, with Tiaan's final-round entry being awarded first prize in the postgraduate category and Ryan third place in the undergraduate category. Read a full story on the faculty's website. The full essays are available here:

Determining the risks of a sovereign debt default in South Africa, and the consequences thereof; an international overview (Tiaan de Swardt)

South Africa’s Public Sector Wage Bill and its impact on fiscal sustainability (Ryan Young)

 

Department bids farewell to two stalwarts

Posted by Melt van Schoor on 2021-12-29

At the end of 2021, two long-serving members of the Department's academic staff are retiring.

Prof Andrie Schoombee joined the Department in 1983 and served as Chair of the Department since 2000. He is widely recognized as having steered the Department through transformative changes while maintaining core values of academic excellence and collegial and supportive environment for staff members. He specialized in monetary economics.

Click here for more on Prof Schoombee's career and thoughts on the Faculty's news blog.

 

 

Le Roux Burrows (pictured here with his wife, Ria at a Departmental function this year at which the contributions of the two retiring staff members were celebrated) will leave after 37 years of loyal service, having been appointed as lecturer in 1985. Academically, Le Roux specialised in quantitative, macro and applied general equilibrium economics, and he was particularly appreciated for his dedicated service and involved in many areas of service delivery in the Department and the wider University and community institutional structures.

Click here for more on Le Roux Burrows's career and thoughts on the Faculty's news bog.

 

Rachel's Angels: Inspirasiestories documentary airing on DStv

Posted by Melt van Schoor on 2021-11-12

A documentary about the Rachel's Angel's initiative will air on DStv in November. The programme was launched in 2007 by Rachel Jafta from the Department of Economics to prepare hundreds of students from resource-poor schools for tertiary education, with a particular focus on mentoring.

Read more about this (including the airing schedule) on the faculty's news blog.

 

Nic Spaull earns recognition for research excellence

Posted by Melt van Schoor on 2021-11-12

Nic Spaull, research Fellow at ReSEP, was recently announced as the winner of the Royal Society of South Africa's Meiring Naudé Medal, which is awarded annually to an outstanding early career scientist, "who have already made a mark in their field and who are poised to become scientific leaders". The adjudicators pointed out that "although he is only 34 years of age, he has had an especially prolific and influential research career to date. According to Google Scholar his h-index since 2016 is 22 and his research has been cited over 2700 times in the last five years."

Nic's research focus is inequality in South African schooling with a special emphasis on the acquisition of foundational skills related to reading, writing and mathematics. Among other projects, he has set up large-scale Randomised Control Trials in the Eastern Cape (50 schools) and Limpopo (120 schools) evaluating the impacts of teacher-coaches, workbooks and teacher assistants, and has recently helped initiate the well-publicised National Income Dynamics Study Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (NIDS-CRAM), leading a consortium of over 30 researchers from six universities to understand the socio-economic impact of the COVID19 pandemic.

Nic was earlier this year awarded a coveted P-rating from the NRF, recently celebrated at an annual awards ceremony (read more about this here). He has also been appointed as an associate professor in the Department of Economics earlier this year. Detailed information on his research can be found on his own website.

 

Are protests replacing voting as mechanism to hold government accountable?

Posted by Melt van Schoor on 2021-11-04

The low voter turnout in the 2021 local government elections could be because citizens have substituted protests for voting, according to a new study by Tina Fransman, a PhD student in Economics at Stellenbosch University. Working with Dr Marisa von Fintel, one of her supervisors, she explored the relationship between public service delivery, voting in elections and protest behaviour in South Africa. She constructed a unique dataset by combining data from different sources to track changes in public service delivery, voting patterns in the local and national elections between 2011 and 2019, and the location and frequency of protests in different municipalities. Her research has just appeared as a Working Paper titled Voting and protest tendencies associated with changes in service delivery (available at https://www.ekon.sun.ac.za/wpapers/2021/wp082021).

 

Department celebrates centenary with Social Impact Expo

Posted by Melt van Schoor on 2021-10-20

The Department recently hosted a Social Impact Expo at Nooitgedacht wine farm, an event that forms part of the Department's centenary celebrations. The initiative was initiated by Prof Rachel Jafta to showcase the positive effects of research and various projects in the Department on people and communities.

The expo featured a visual exhibition which highlighted the social impact of three of the department's research projects, namely the Biography of an Uncharted People Project, the Mansory phone application and a school traffic awareness research project. Additional social impact initiatives inclued Words Open Worlds (WOW), the Cape Town Carnival, Rachel’s Angels Mentorship Programme and WeCode24.

Pictured above is Master's student Lwandiso Botozo, who worked with postdoctoral fellow Jonathan Schoots, on African nationalism in the late nineteenth century (photo by Philip du Plessis). The art work forms part of the Biography of an Uncharted People Project, which has transcribed large, administrative historical records to tell new histories of people often excluded from conventional sources. Instead of simply publishing this research in academic journals – far removed from those whose stories are told – this project aims to imagine a new form of research dissemination, through art. Fourteen artists were paired with 14 students to translate the research results of the students into works of art. These works of art were displayed at the Social Impact Expo, and will be displayed again at SU's Gallery (GUS) next year.

A longer article describing some of the other projects in more detail can be read on the faculty's news blog.

 

NIDS-CRAM survey team finalist for NSTF-South32 Award

Posted by Johan Fourie on 2021-07-01

The NIDS-CRAM survey team has been announced as a finalist of the 2020/2021 National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF)-South32 Awards under the Data for Research Award Category. This category recognizes the advancement of availability, management and use of data for research in South Africa.

The National Income Dynamics Study – Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (NIDS-CRAM) is a collaborative effort across multiple universities in South Africa, with A/Prof. Nic Spaull of Stellenbosch University's Economics Department and A/Prof. Reza Daniels of SALDRU at UCT, as Principal Investigators of the study.

 

Stellenbosch Economics graduate voted AU Commission Deputy Chair

Posted by Melt van Schoor on 2021-02-15

Recently, in an African Union summit (held online due to COVID19), one of our Department's graduates, Dr. Monique Nsanzabaganwa, was elected as Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission. The AUC, based in Addis Ababa, consists of six commissioners (recently reduced from eight as part of a reform), a chairperson and a deputy chairperson. The AUC functions as the AU's executive branch / secretariat and is responsible for administration and coordination of the AU's activities and meetings. As Deputy Chair, Monique will in particular be responsible for the implementation and management of a large project to reform the organization, initiated in 2016 (more detail available in an article in The Conversation.)

Monique obtained her Masters degree in economics (cum laude) at Stellenbosch in 2002, followed later by a PhD in 2012, entitled "Uncertainty and Private Sector Response to Economic Development Policy in Post-Genocide Rwanda", with the late Prof Philip Black as promotor. In between her degree studies, she held high positions in the Rwandan government: State Minister for Economic Planning (2003-2008) and Minister of Trade and Industry (2008-2011). Most recently, she served as Deputy-Governor of the National Bank of Rwanda. For more detail on her career, see this KT Press article.

In 2017, Stellenbosch University recognised her achievements by awarding her an honorary doctorate.

 

Sampie Terreblanche's documents now online

Posted by Johan Fourie on 2018-07-06

A new website – www.sampieterreblanche.org – now provides access to many of the late professor Sampie Terreblanche's documents. The prolific writings of prof Terreblanche, a legendary professor of Economics in the department who died on 17 February, has now been electronically preserved thanks to the efforts of his family and the department. The website includes links to media articles, books and hundreds of his unpublished monographs. More items will also be added over the next few months, including class notes and photographs. Plans for a bursary in his name are also in the final stages of development.

 

Centre for Competition Law and Economics

Posted by Melt van Schoor on 2018-02-02

The newly established Centre for Competition Law and Economics within the Department of Economics has recently launched its own website - click here to visit it.

 

Why you need to do a postgraduate degree in Economics at Stellenbosch University

Posted by Melt van Schoor on 2016-12-12

Current students give their perspective on a postgraduate degree at Stellenbosch University.

 

Laboratory for the Economics of Africa's Past (LEAP) launched at Stellenbosch

Posted by Johan Fourie on 2015-05-30

South African research into economic history has gained momentum with the launch of the Laboratory for the Economics of Africa's Past (LEAP) at Stellenbosch University on Wednesday, 27 May.

"LEAP brings together scholars and students interested in understanding and explaining the long-term economic development of Africa's diverse societies," says Dr Johan Fourie of the Department of Economics.

"Studying the historical development of an economy provides a context for existing challenges and a source of hypotheses to explain the trajectory of its evolution."

Read the full article here, visit the LEAP website, or like the LEAP Facebook page.

 

ReSEP website launched

Posted by Melt van Schoor on 2012-10-10

The Research on Socio-Economic Policy (ReSEP) group at the Department of Economics today launched a new website which will serve as a resource for researchers and policy-makers interested in issues surrounding socio-economic development in Southern Africa.  Spearheaded by Professor Servaas van der Berg, the ReSEP group consists of members of the Department of Economics, contract research staff and graduate students, and developed around a long term research focus on issues of poverty, income distribution, social mobility, economic development and social policy. The new website contains information on ReSEP’s involvement in various research projects, provides access to downloadable working papers, policy briefs, and other research reports produced by members of the ReSEP team, and will in time also provide access to further learning and training materials for policy-makers, researchers, students and others interested in policy debates. Visit the new website at http://resep.sun.ac.za/.

 

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BER Weekly

12 Apr 2024
In the lead-up to the national election, local news remained focused on political developments. On the international front, newsfeeds were dominated by the currency and commodity markets. The US dollar strengthened significantly last week while the gold price reached another record high. ...

Read the full issue
 

Upcoming Seminars

No seminars are currently listed. Please check back soon.
 
More...

BER Weekly

12 Apr 2024
In the lead-up to the national election, local news remained focused on political developments. On the international front, newsfeeds were dominated by the currency and commodity markets. The US dollar strengthened significantly last week while the gold price reached another record high. ...

Read the full issue