Our Research posts are about the latest academic research being done in the School of Economics. This week:
The characteristics of volunteers in South Africa
Volunteers are people who spend their time for the benefit of others. Their work is quite important in a time when social safety nets are weak and there are ever increasing demands on welfare organisations. It is estimated that approximately 1.2 million South Africans participate in volunteer activities. This amounts to millions of hours and billions of Rands of value had the activities been compensated. In a recent ERSA working paper Dr Ferdinand Niyimbanira and Prof Waldo Krugell asked, who are these good Samaritans? What are the characteristics of these volunteers and how are these related to the number of hours that they spend as volunteers? Are they looking for psychological reward, or business contacts and skills?
The paper uses data from the South African Volunteer Activities Survey and examines the links between individuals’ resources and volunteerism.
A quick description of the data already shows an interesting fact: Blacks volunteer on average almost double the number of hours that the other population groups do, but the analysis shows that this cannot be explained by individual ‘assets’ such as gender, level of education, work status or income.
A regression model of the predictors of the number of hours that people volunteer shows two predictors that are statistically significant. First, compared to the Black and Coloured population groups, being White is negatively and significantly associated with hours volunteered. In fact, Whites volunteer 8.5 per cent fewer hours compared to the Black and Coloured population groups. Second, when “others” received the benefit of the volunteer work, compared to household members, family or friends, there is a positive and significant association with hours volunteered – 9.4 per cent more hours are volunteered. More…
The months of September and October were very busy months for the Development Economics Honours class. The lecturer (Prof Derick Blaauw) initiated a class project on day labouring in the informal economy in Potchefstroom. The project forms part of a bigger inter-disciplinary project with the lecturers from Anthropology. All ethical clearances were obtained as required by research protocol.
The aim of the project was to answer questions such as, who are the day labourers, and what are their employment histories in terms of formal sector jobs and experience? The class went through all the steps of survey research of this nature. Time was spent on recognizance to determine the places where the day labourers congregate to find temporary employment for a day or more. Records were kept and in the meantime a survey instrument was developed with everyone’s inputs. Prof Blaauw combined the questions and a questionnaire was compiled. The lecturer and students then embarked on the field work. The experience brought the students closer to the reality of being unemployed and then it was no longer merely a statistic in book or on a web site. The endeavors of real people at the coal face of an economy that cannot absorb them provided a reality check and a connection to the real world not possible to achieve by only staying in the comfort of an air conditioned classroom.
The data has now been captured and the 75 respondents’ data will be used for analysis by the students. We will report in the findings in due course. This will be shared with relevant parties and the students expressed the need for this to be the start of long term project with tangible results and the buy in of relevant role-players such as the municipality to improve the lives of these men on the side of the road. The lecturer agrees!
At TRADE the flagship model is the Decision Support Model used to identify export opportunities. Earlier Prof Wilma Viviers wrote a nice piece for the Mail and Guardian on how the TRADE-DSM Navigator can be used to identify markets for South African fruit exports. The model identifies export opportunities in terms of products and markets and takes account of factors such as country risk, logistics costs, trade barriers and the market potential. You can read more about it here.