Director, DPRU, School of Economics, UCT   

Expertise: Labour Economics, Poverty, Income Distribution, Inclusive Growth, Minimum Wages

Haroon Bhorat is Professor of Economics and Director of the DPRU. He holds an NRF B2 rating, and with a total citation estimate of over 8000 and an h-index of 50, he is one of the most cited South African economists globally.

He currently serves on the Presidential Economic Advisory Council (PEAC), established by President Ramaphosa to generate new ideas for economic growth, job creation and addressing poverty in South Africa. Prof. Bhorat holds the DST/NRF SARChI Chair in Economic Growth, Poverty and Inequality Research. He is a Non-resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution; a Research Fellow at IZA, the Institute for the Study of Labour in Bonn; and is a member of the UCT College of Fellows.

Serving in a variety of public roles ranging from high-level advisory work for government departments and multi-lateral institutions, to giving public lectures and seminar presentations at the world’s leading universities (including for example Columbia, Cornell, Yale and Oxford), Prof. Bhorat’s ability to seamlessly switch between conducting hard empirical analysis and providing evidence-based policy advice that is accessible to a broader audience, has had a direct impact on the discipline. His research feeds into policy decisions and pronouncements at the highest level, including Cabinet memoranda, State of the Nation Addresses and legislative promulgation. His work has been hugely influential in policy making in respect of poverty, inequality and labour market issues in South Africa.

He consults with international organizations such as the ILO, the UNDP, the World Bank, Ratings Agencies and emerging market fund managers. He retains an involvement in the private sector as he serves on the Board of two listed companies in the Retail and financial services sectors. He sat on the Advisory Board of the UNDP’s 2019 and 2020 Human Development Reports, and was a member of the World Bank’s Advisory Board of the Commission on Global Poverty. He is currently a member of the executive committee of the  International Economic Association (IEA) and sat on the Program Committee of the 2017 IEA World Congress. He is a member on the Advisory Committee of the joint United Nations and World Bank Policy Study on the role of Development in the Prevention of Violent Conflict. He also sits on the UN/WHO’s High Level Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth. Haroon previously served as a member of the UN Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor (LEP), and was Head of Research for the UN’s High-Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

Prof. Bhorat has undertaken extensive work for several South African government departments – most notably the South African Department of Labour, the Presidency and the National Treasury, including an appointment as Advisor on the South African Parliament’s High Level Panel on Acceleration of Change and Transformation. He served as an economic advisor to two past Ministers of Finance including Min. Pravin Gordhan, and previous Presidents Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe, formally serving on the Presidential Economic Advisory Panel.

Prof. Bhorat sits on the editorial advisory board of the World Bank Economic Review, and he is a Board Member of the National Research Foundation (NRF) and UNU World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER), previously sitting on the HSRC Board. He has his PhD in Economics through Stellenbosch University, studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and was a Cornell University research fellow. Prof. Bhorat’s commitments at UCT include lecturing Advanced Labour Economics (Hons), and supervision to Honours, Masters and PhD students.


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Latest Research & Publications:

Refereed Journals 


  • FORTHCOMING: The effect of wage subsidies on job retention: Evidence from South Africa during the COVID-19 pandemic. In: Social Protection in Times of Crises in Developing Countries (working title). UNU-WIDER, Oxford University Press. (Co-authored with Köhler, T. and Hill R.)
  • FORTHCOMING: Employment creation potential, labor skills requirements, and skill gaps for young people: A South African case study. In: Industries Without Smokestacks, Brookings Institution. (Co-authored with Allen, C., Asmal, Z., Hill, R., Monnakgotla, J., Oosthuizen, M. and Rooney, C.)
  • South Africa: employment and inequality trends. In: Tasks, skills, and institutions: The Changing Nature of Work and Inequality. Edited by Carlos Gradín, Piotr Lewandowski, Simone Schotte, and Kunal Sen. Oxford University Press. 22 June 2023, Chapter 6, pp 89-108. (Co-authored with Lilenstein, K., Oosthuizen, M. and Thornton, A.)
  • The Technology Gap in the Developing World and the G20: An Empirical Profile. In: G20 Indonesia 2022: New Normal, New Technologies, New Financing. Edited by Lili Yan Ing and Dani Rodrik. International Economic Association (IEA) London & Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) Jakarta; June 2022. Chapter 8: pp. 89-100. (Co-authored with Allen Whitehead, C. and de Villiers, D.).
  • The short-term labour market effects of South Africa’s national COVID-19 lockdown. In: The Future of the South African Political Economy Post-COVID 19, Edited by Mzukisi Qobo, Mills Soko, Nomfundo Xenia Ngwenya. 01 November 2022. Springer: International Political Economy Series. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. Chapter 6, pp: 129-149. (Co-authored with Köhler, T., Hill R. and Stanwix, B.)
  • Economic Growth, Rising Inequality, and Deindustrialization - South Africa’s Kuznetsian Tension. In: The Developer’s Dilemma: Structural Transformation, Inequality Dynamics, and Inclusive Growth.  Edited by Alisjahbana, A., Salsiah, K., Sen, A., Sumner, A., and Anshory Yusef, A. August 2022. Chapter 9. Oxford University Press. August 2022. (Co-authored with Oosthuizen, M., Steenkamp, F., Lilenstein, K. and Thornton, A.)
  • Impact on vulnerable groups. In: South Africa Covid-19 Country Report [First edition], DPME (Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation), GTAC (Government Technical Advisory Centre) & NRF (National Research Foundation), Pretoria: June 2022, Chapter 5.3, pp. 319-368. (Co-authored with Vogel, C., Maree, G., Köhler, T., Stanwix, B., Sodi, T., Ubomba-Jaswa, E., Drimie, S., Mbhenyane, X., Symington, E., Adebayo, P. and Ndinda, C.)

Collaborative Working Papers

DPRU Working Papers:

  • FORTHCOMING: A Targeted Wage Subsidy: Potential Adjustments to the Employment Tax Incentive. WP 202305. (Co-authored with Martin, L., Monnakgotla, J. and Stanwix, B.)
  • Co-ordination to support inclusive growth in developing countries in the context of globalization: The case of the business process outsourcing sector in South Africa? WP 202307. (Co-authored with Allen Whitehead, C. and Asmal, Z.)
  • Technological Change and Workplace Innovation in the Insurance Sector in South Africa: Disruption with the Potential for Social Good in a Developing Country Context? WP 202306. (Co-authored with Asmal, Z., Martin, L. and Rooney, C.)
  • Skilled Immigration in South Africa: An input into the Operation Vulindlela review of Critical Skills and General Work visas. WP 202304. (Co-authored with Asmal, Z., de Villiers, D. and Martin, L.)
  • Manufacturing in Sub-Saharan Africa: Deindustrialisation or a Renaissance? WP 202303. (Co-authored with Asmal, Z., Rooney, C. and Steenkamp, F.)
  • Wage Subsidies and Job Retention in a Developing Country: Evidence from South Africa. WP 202302. (Co-authored with Köhler, T. and Hill, R.)
  • Can Cash Transfers to the Unemployed Support Economic Activity? Evidence from South Africa. WP 202301. (Co-authored with Köhler, T. and de Villiers, D).