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SA should design economic policy based on strengths of regions: ...

Ideas

SA should design economic policy based on strengths of regions: here’s how

To build the economy the state should devolve national policy to allow provinces to build on their strengths

JUSTIN VISAGIE and IVAN TUROK

Economists and policymakers seem to have a blind spot when thinking about how the economy functions and what determines success. Analytical frameworks and government policies consistently neglect the role of space and geography in favour of national averages and sectoral plans. Yet growing evidence from around the world shows the importance of place and location for productivity, growth and development.

Intuitively, it is obvious economic progress depends on the quality of local skills, capable public institutions, reliable infrastructure and proximity to markets and suppliers. But just how important are these factors compared with the particular mix of local industries and macroeconomic conditions?

In a recent paper (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/saje.12303) we unpacked the economic performance of different provinces in SA to diagnose the significance of local factors and sectoral conditions. This is helpful in understanding why some provinces consistently outperform others. And what might be done to help lagging regions improve their competitiveness...

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