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Project Listing Page

Current projects

Qualcomm minibus taxi study

Does a commuter safety ratings app incentivise minibus taxi drivers to drive more carefully?

An estimated 15 million South Africans rely on minibus taxis to get where they need to be on a daily basis. This represents 70% of the public transport market and nearly 10 billion trips annually. Given the minibus taxi industry’s importance, a major concern is the high accident rate due to reckless driving.  AftaRobot, currently implemented in the South of Johannesburg, is a technology platform that consists of a suite of mobile applications, a portal, and a cloud backend that aims to improve the operational efficiency of taxi associations, as well as travel safety for commuters.

The AMERU was commissioned to investigate the impact of the AftaRobot App on commuter safety. Specifically, working with one of the Gauteng taxi associations we test using an RCT design if the commuter safety ratings feedback option of the AftaRobot app incentivises taxi drivers to drive more carefully measured in the daily average speed of the taxi and the driver’s accident rate over the research period.

Completed projects

R4D project: Employment Effects of Different Development Policy Tools Round 1 (2014 - 2016) click here for details

This project aims to provide new empirical insights and theoretical perspectives by combining different scientific disciplines and research methods such as quasi-experimental methods, econometric analysis of micro and macro datasets, semi-structured interviews with key actors (field research), and sociological and legal analysis of policies and regulations. It will increase our understanding of which policies lead to development processes that are sustainable from the point of view of growth processes, business logic and societal values.

Reading Catch Up Programme (RCUP): A Randomized Control Trial in Primary Schools in Durban (2014)

The RCUP project evaluates the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of an eleven week programme which focuses on improving the performance of fourth grade students in English, which is the second language for the majority of targeted students. The project is onducted in the Pinetown district of KwaZulu-Natal Province in South Africa.

As is the case for the majority of students in South Africa, those in the targeted schools experience a transition in the language of instruction at the fourth grade.  In grades 1 through 3 most schools teach in the Home Language of students (isiZulu in the case of Pinetown) and then transition to English as language of instruction in grade 4.  Research has demonstrated that most South African children in poor communities have accumulated large learning deficits in English proficiency by the fourth grade (Taylor, 2011). In order to address any learning shortcomings during the foundation phase, the RCUP implements three components during an eleven weak intervention: scripted lesson plans, additional reading resources and in-class instructional coaching and training.  The study randomly assigned 40 schools to the treatment group and 60 schools to the control group.  

Wits Writing Centre Intervention study (2014)

The Wits Writing Centre Intervention study was implemented in response to the test performance of entry-level students in the Faculty of Education at the University of the Witwatersrand who wrote the National Benchmark Test in Academic Literacy (NBT AL) at the commencement of their studies in 2014. The request for these students to take the NBT AL was initiated by the Head of School of Education due to concerns about the readiness of these first-year students to cope with the typical academic reading, reasoning and writing demands they would face in their studies. Based on their performance in the NBT academic literacy section, all first year students of the Wits School of Education who obtained 40% or less in the AL section of the NBT were assigned to attend weekly support sessions at the Wits Writing Centre. The study uses a fuzzy Regression Discontinuity Design to analyse the impact of the intervention on students' academic performance during their first year. 


We are currently collecting data on how transport costs affect student performance and labour market outcomes among young people. If you commute to Wits by taxi and would like to be part of this project please contact either Neil Rankin (New Commerce 203 or 011 7178098) or Gareth Roberts (New Commerce 201a or 011 7178103). We reimburse you for your taxi fare.

Youth Unemployment Intervention Evaluation

This project investigates the success of existing and planned government interventions to get young people into jobs. A key component of the project is the creation of a panel data set of people aged between 20 and 24 with this data linked to the firms they work in and the types of interventions they are involved with. The first phase of this project runs until September 2010. It is funded by the South African National Treasury and Department of Labour.

IDRC project - Improving Labour Market Outcomes for the Poor in Sub-Saharan Africa: Ghana, Madagascar, South Africa and Tanzania

This research brings together evidence from four African countries: Ghana, Madagascar, South Africa, and Tanzania to investigate two key questions.

1) How and where are jobs created that can be accessed by the poor?

2) What types of jobs create trajectories out of poverty, and what is constraining the growth of these jobs?

It is a collaboration between researchers working at the following institiutions:
University of Dar es Salam, Tanzania;
Ghana Statistical Services;
National Institute of Statistics Madagascar (INSTAT);
Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford;
Lafayette College;
Cornel University;
University of Cape Town.

This research is based on existing secondary data as well as primary data collection.
More details on this project can be found on the project page.

The determinants of learning outcomes in Economics 1

Economics 1 is the largest class at the University of the Witwatersrand. In 2009 there are appoximately 2,200 students enrolled, up from 1,500 in 2008.The courseis compulsory for all students enrolled in a BCom degree but is also taken by students from many other faculties. These students have varying levels of preparedness, backgrounds and motivation. Failing Economics 1 means thatstudents may have to spend an additional year at university which has a high opportunitycost for thestudent and resource implications for the School and University.This project investigates the factors that are correlated with achievement in Economics 1. Furthermore, it examines the types of teaching and learning innovations that may have an impact on student performance. The project is scheduled to run for 2009-2010.

Gauteng creative mapping project by Wits University (AMERU) and CAJ, commissioned by the British Council and the Department of Arts and Culture.

The Gauteng creative mapping project aimed to quantify the contribution of the creative industries to the Gauteng economy. A secondary aim was to gather information on perceived needs and obstacles to ensure the alignment of government policy and programs to the needs of the sector.

The research for this project was conducted between September and December 2007 using a 40 minute face-to-face questionnaire and a 10 minute telephone questionnaire across the following sectors comprising the creative industries: visual arts, performing arts, cultural tourism and heritage, multimedia, music, craft, audio-visual, publishing, design, fashion. In total 190 face-to-face and 538 telephonic interviews were undertaken.