The Changing Nature of Inequality in South Africa

Carolyn Jenkins and Lynne Thomas

in Inequality Growth and Poverty in an Era of Liberalization and Globalization

Published in print March 2004 | ISBN: 9780199271412
Published online August 2004 | e-ISBN: 9780191601255 | DOI:

Series: WIDER Studies in Development Economics

 The Changing Nature of Inequality in South Africa

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This is the fourth of five country case studies on income inequality, and looks at the case of South Africa. After an introduction, the second section of the chapter reviews the evolution of inequality in South Africa, and the third draws together the findings of other authors to highlight the primary sources of changes in the nature of income inequality (wage differentials and unequal access to employment). The fourth section assesses the evolution of economic policy and performance, drawing a distinction between the apartheid years and the post‐1994 period, and also considers the posttransition policy framework in more detail. The fifth section briefly discusses policies targeted at the structural causes of poverty and inequality since 1994 (policies on education and social expenditure, and on land). The sixth section focuses on the likely impact of the macroeconomic policy framework since 1994 on income distribution, arguing that changes in labour markets resulting from the breakdown of apartheid in the workplace dominated the observed shifts in the distribution of income during the 1970s and 1980s, although there is evidence that the shift towards neoliberal orthodoxy is increasingly affecting the income distribution; topics addressed include the effects of stabilization (inflation and interest rates), fiscal policy, trade and financial liberalization, and labour institutions.

Keywords: apartheid; case studies; economic performance; economic policy; education; education policy; employment; financial liberalization; fiscal policy; income distribution; income inequality; inequality; inflation; interest rates; labour institutions; labour market; land; land policy; liberalization; macroeconomic policy; neoliberal orthodoxy; post‐apartheid policy; poverty; social expenditure; social expenditure policy; social policy; South Africa; trade liberalization; unequal access to employment; wage differentials

Chapter.  12781 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Economic Development and Growth

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