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Creating a Harmonised Survey of Employers and Self-employed dataset

Principal Investigator: Andrew Kerr, Frederick Fourie DataFirst, UCT / School of Economics, University of the Free State

The Unemployment and Employment focus area of the REDI project notes that the “entire economy, not just the formal sector” needs to be considered. Our research addresses this issue directly by examining informal firms. In addition, the focus is on employment and employment creation (potential) in the informal sector.

The SESE is one of only a few sources of information on informal firms in South Africa but has received only very limited attention from academics and is thus underutilised. It is done every four years (starting 2001) as a follow-up survey on the QLFS. Thus, in terms of methodology and sampling, it shares many of the characteristics of the QLFS.

Given how little we know about informal firms in South Africa, Kerr and Fourie believe that there is much value added in the proposed research, even though it is only exploratory.

In contrast to other South African studies that focus on the size of the informal sector, they will focus on the dynamics and (esp. Employment) behaviour of the sector. They will thus do a detailed descriptive and graphical analysis of the data (including changes in measures between surveys) as well as exploratory multiple regression analyses, where we intend to uncover some of the correlates of firm success and employment behaviour.  They will analyse basic patterns (and trends, where possible) in informal firms and their employment behaviour with reference to potential correlates such as firm size, firm age, location, sector as well as owner characteristics (age, gender, education, etc.). The analysis and choice of variables is situated in the context of available literature on similar studies, and also involves certain data quality checks, particularly with regard to possible outliers amongst the different SESEs.