Irving continues trend

09 February 2006

UCT has produced a sizeable group of winners in the annual Old Mutual Budget Speech competition, a lineage continued this year by master's student Margaret Irving, and including the Centre for Social Science Research (CSSR) director, Professor Johann Fedderke.

Irving's 2 500-word essay explored the set question: Does investment lead growth, or does growth lead investment? Entrants were expected to bolster their arguments with international experience and South African data.

The former Westerford pupil said she didn't have a specific stance on the topic.

"It's a virtuous cycle in some ways. There's a temptation to address too much in the essay and it's a useful discipline choosing what's important."

Like the other nine finalists (including UCT's Andrew Hill and Susan Godlonton, an unprecedented number for any one university), Irving went before a panel of adjudicators, lead by Professor Jakes Gerwel, the assembly looking for "intellectual sparkle, the ability to debate topical economic matters and to formulate rational arguments".

In addition to the added incentive of rubbing shoulders with keynote speaker, Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, at the Arabella Sheraton banquet, Irving won a year's scholarship to Cambridge or Oxford.

UCT boasts a long line of winners, many of whom are engaged at the university in various capacities. Fedderke won the competition in 1986.

With a PhD from Cambridge, he joined UCT in 2004 as professor of economics. His research interests are in growth, technology, innovation, trade, macroeconomics, the political economy and institutions.

Established in 2001 with funding from the Andrew W Mellon Foundation, the interdisciplinary CSSR research centre has close ties with the Institute of Social Research at the University of Michigan in the US.

The CSSR's units include the AIDS and Society Research Unit, the Data First Resource Unit, the Democracy in Africa Research Unit, the Social Surveys Unit and the Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit.

Fedderke is particularly keen to develop the Data First Resource Unit, a unique portal for high-quality, internationally comparable quantitative analysis. The unit offers a digital library and data resources for students and researchers in areas spanning Western Cape household income, census information and surveys conducted in 16 African countries.

He would like to see historical data added to this already considerable resource.

"My aim is to place the CSSR as a 'go-to' place when looking for information on questions of development and long-term economic development."

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