Development Policy Research Unit (DPRU)

I am interning for DPRU during my time studying abroad.

The Development Policy Research Unit (DPRU) aims to inform economic and social policymaking by specialising in academically rigorous research into various socio-economic challenges in South Africa and Africa in general; their causes in areas such as education, regulation and governance; and the consequences of these challenges for poverty and inequality at the country- and regional level.

The DPRU is a University-recognized research unit located within the School of Economics at the University of Cape Town, and has been actively engaged in policy-relevant socio-economic research for the past 25 years, establishing itself as one of South Africa’s premier research institutions in the field.

Through the application of economic and statistical techniques, our aim is to produce academically credible and rigorous policy analysis.The three core objectives of the Unit are to:

  • foster high quality, policy relevant research within the DPRU
  • train a new generation of research economists within the Unit, and
  • disseminate knowledge to decision- and policy-makers in government, the private sector and civil society.


The Development Policy Research Unit (DPRU) has been actively engaged in policy-relevant research since 1990, establishing itself as one of South Africa’s premier research institutions in the fields of labour markets, poverty and inequality. The Unit’s research feeds into policy decisions and pronouncements at the highest level, including Cabinet memoranda, State of the Nation Addresses and legislation, while our research findings are regularly featured in the print and electronic media.

Much of the DPRU’s work derives from government departments at national and provincial level, while the Unit also receives funding from international and multilateral agencies. In particular, the DPRU has completed numerous research projects at the national level for National Treasury, the Presidency, and the Departments of Labour, Social Development, Education and Trade and Industry, as well as for various departments in the Western Cape Provincial Government.

As part of our engagement in the policy arena, the DPRU has hosted highly successful conferences aimed at fostering greater interaction between researchers and policymakers. The Unit publishes a Working Paper and a Policy Brief series, both of which are freely available on our website. DPRU staff members also undertake limited teaching and graduate supervision.

Apart from its research and capacity building activities, the DPRU is engaged in managing the Employment Promotion Programme (EPP), an initiative of the UK Government’s Department for International Development (DFID), aimed at providing an enabling policy environment in South Africa for employment creation and poverty reduction in South Africa. Bringing business, labour and government representatives together, the Programme has been able to commission a wide range of research that has had high level policy impact. The DPRU is also the selected South African partner institution of the African Growth Initiative (AGI), in partnership with the Brookings Institute in the United States. This partnership ensures the DPRU’s research reach a broader international policymaking audience.

The DPRU Director, Professor Haroon Bhorat, holds the NRF Research Chair in Economic Growth, Poverty and Inequality. This has facilitated the awarding of postgraduate bursaries and fellowships broadly within the DPRU’s main areas of interest to Economics students at the University.

Current and recently completed projects undertaken by the DPRU include:

  • Africa Growth Initiative (AGI) Programme
  • Understanding enforcement of minimum wage laws
  • Monitoring the impact of the economic downturn on the SA labour market
  • Enhancing access to information: An analysis of collective bargaining and sectoral determination wage data
  • Labour market dynamics in the Western Cape


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