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Research Units
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Research Units

The School of Economics is home to the following active research units.

Development Policy Research Unit

The Development Policy Research Unit (DPRU)‚ located within the School of Economics‚ aims to inform economic and social policy making by producing academically rigorous research into various labour market challenges‚ their causes in areas such as education and regulation‚ and their consequences as manifest in poverty and inequality. 

Through the application of economic and statistical techniques‚ our goal is to produce academically rigorous policy analysis.

The three core objectives of the unit are:

  • Fostering high quality‚ policy relevant research within the DPRU‚
  • Training a new generation of research economists within the DPRU‚
  • Disseminating knowledge to decision makers in government‚ the private sector and civil society.
  • The Unit publishes a successful Working Paper series as well as a Policy Brief series‚ Labour Market Fact Sheets and various other publications. These are all freely available on the DPRU website.

South African Labour and Development Research Unit

The Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit (SALDRU) was established in 1975 in the Research Division of the School of Economics at the University of Cape Town.

It was set up to stimulate research, to communicate this research to people in general and policy makers in particular, to act as a consultancy in its specialised fields, to operate a resource centre, and to play a role in training students and researchers in the basic skills of the Social Sciences.

Environmental Policy Research Unit (EPRU)

The Environmental Policy Research Unit (EPRU) is a research group which seeks to enhance environmental policy-making in South Africa through rigorous policy research and extension in order to attain sustainable development and poverty reduction! EPRU is funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) through the Environment for Development (EfD) initiative managed by the Environmental Economics Unit at Gteborg University.

Operationally, EPRU is hosted by one of the existing research units in the School of Economics, namely the Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit (SALDRU) as a project on the Environment and Poverty. With time, EPRU will stand as a fully-fledged research unit in the School of Economics after undergoing a status review by the University Research Committee.

Policy Research in International Services and Manufacturing (PRISM)

Policy Research in International Services and Manufacturing (PRISM) is a research and policy ‘unit' located in the School of Economics and is affiliated to the Centre for Social Science Research (CSSR) . PRISM provides a lens to focus research and policy work on issues of globalization and industrialization in Sub Saharan Africa. 

The CSSR provides management, administrative and financial services, as well as assisting in realising its wide research remit - to interface between economics and other relevant disciplines. PRISM provides a home to a number of independent research activities, projects and programmes. 

The broad focus of the research activities undertaken are all concerned with issues of globalization, global value chains, industrialization paths, the role of knowledge-intensive services, international competitiveness. PRISM is managed by a Steering Committee consisting of Prof Mike Morris (Director), Prof David Kaplan and Prof Anthony Black.

Research Unit in Behavioural Economics and Neuroeconomics (RUBEN)

RUBEN is an interdisciplinary group of researchers who use economic experiments, often together with fMRI imaging techniques, to examine the role that social, cognitive and emotional factors play in economic decision–making. In particular, the methodological approach in which the members of our team are experts allows the estimation of risk attitudes and time preferences of individuals, households and communities in the field. RUBEN is currently the only centre for experimental research in economics on the African continent, providing training, research leadership and technical resources for the benefit of researchers throughout the continent. A key aspect of RUBEN activity is training. RUBEN hosts annual training workshops for scholars from the rest of the continent and raises funds to cover all workshop costs for these participants. In addition, the Unit aims to provide scholarships for 4–6 postgraduate students annually. The research programme of RUBEN focuses on risk, uncertainty and the costs of waiting in the dynamics of African poverty and development. Since the research requires the provision of cash incentives to participants engaged in the experiments, funding is typically project–specific.

 Recent projects undertaken by RUBEN researchers include: 

  • National Urban Prevalence Study of Gambling Behaviour
  • Trusts, risk, inequality and economic growth
  • Climate change in an experimental setting: The effect of stochastic future disasters and country vulnerability on cooperation.
  • The Relationship Between Addiction and Reward Bundling: an Experiment Comparing Smokers and Non–smokers
  • Risk–aversion and risk–taking in the classroom