The 2023 Public Economics Conference takes place from 6-7 September under the theme “Employment and the economics of job creation: evaluating government employment programmes”

The first Public Economics Conference on from 6 – 7 September 2023 will shine the spotlight on government’s initiatives to boost job creation and address unemployment under the theme “Employment and the economics of job creation: evaluating government employment programmes”. This year, we’re excited to tap into the wealth of knowledge accumulated through the research, project reviews and evaluations done by GTAC and the National Treasury over the past decade.

The Public Economics Conference, a combined Winter School and Savings@Work conference, aims to unlock this valuable, yet often inaccessible evidence, and shed light on why some programmes work and others fail. Through presentations and discussions of outcomes and lessons learned, this conference provides an ideal platform for sharing and debating the substantial evidence base in the field of public economics.

South Africa’s labour market is considered a ‘labour surplus economy’, with huge unemployment challenges facing government. During the conference this public economics challenge is interrogated from different angles.

We kick off with an overview of SA’s fiscal policy challenges, and the spending choices required to narrow the very wide gap between government’s fiscal programme and its policy agenda. This means tackling questions of programme design in the public sector, and implementing institutional reforms that ease rather than exacerbate fiscal constraints. We also shed light on the revenue side and look at what has happened to the personal income base over the past decade. This is followed by an interrogation of employment incentives, especially youth employment incentives.

On day 2 we analyse selected employment and job creation ‘spending reviews’ completed by GTAC, as well as reviews from the Jobs Fund, to inform our choices in respect of spending and programme design. We align this case study session with a methodological overview of review techniques for employment type programme evaluations.

Download the full programme here.


Winter School

Day 1

Fiscal policy challenges, and spending choices

Tackling low labour utilisation 

Integration of renewable sources into the South African electricity system

Implications of fossil fuel economics & climate policy on SA’s energy system & economy

What has happened to the personal income tax base over the past decade?

Employment tax incentives: evidence on its impact

Day 2


Spending review case study 1 

Spending review case study 2

Spending review case study 3

Jobs Fund


Winter School

When is the conference?

The conference is a hybrid event that will run from 6 – 7 September 2023. The majority of participants will join online but select participants will be able to attend in person.

What will I gain from attending the 2023 Public Economics Conference? 

The Conference is an opportunity for students, young professionals and government employees at national, provincial and local level to access information, expertise and insight on issues that are not well represented in the current curriculums at university, or necessarily part of the exposure for officials.

The event also serves as a platform for officials and students to engage with practitioners in the larger policy-making environment and businesses tackling real-life challenges. By participating in this event, you will gain a deeper understanding of the practical application of public economics to real-world issues, enabling them to make meaningful contributions towards effective policies and implementation.

Who can attend?

The Public Economics Conference is open to post-graduate students in economics and related fields who are currently considering different research topics and career opportunities (both national and international), public officials at national, provincial and local levels and young professionals from the private sector, economists and academics.

There is no fee for attending the Conference but we have limited space for post-graduate students who would like to attend in-person.

If you are a student and want to be considered for in-person attendance (all travel and accommodation costs will be paid for students outside Gauteng), we will require a copy of your last exam results. If the number of in-person applications exceeds the number we can accommodate in the venue, your results will be used to select the top applicants. You will of course be free to attend online.

We would also like to receive a copy of your marks of your last degree, i.e.,

  • If you are an Honours student currently we need a copy of your final under-graduate results.
  • If you are a Masters student we need a copy of your Honours of 4th year results.
  • If you are a PhD student we need a copy of your Masters results.

Please review this document for information on how to apply for in-person attendance. You can submit your application by email here.


Winter School

Day 1 begins with an overview of our fiscal policy challenges, and the spending choices required to narrow the gap between government’s policy agenda and the available resources. We also examine the investment requirements of the energy transition and implications for the national electricity grid of the shift from coal to renewable energy resources. The opening day concludes with a review of income statistics drawn from SARS data: what the trends tell us about income distribution, employment and growth over the past decade.

On Day 2 we present evidence from Spending Reviews and Jobs Fund evaluations that inform choices in respect of employment policy and programme design. Spending Reviews bring to light the links between policy development and implementation, through providing a better understanding of the institutional landscape, policy, cost and budgetary implications. The Jobs Fund’s funding interventions seek to overcome some of the identified barriers to job creation. Some of these relate to demand for labour, some to the supply of labour and some to the broader institutional environment. As such, we conclude Day 2 with a panel discussion on how we should think about the “costs” and benefits of employment programmes in a high-unemployment economy.

Download the full programme here.

Click here to register


If you have any questions, please email GTAC Public Economics Conference

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