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The South African poor white problem in the early 20th century: Lessons for poverty today

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  • Johan Fourie

    ()
    (Department of Economics, University of Stellenbosch)

Abstract

The causes of the poor white problem, first noted at a Dutch Reformed Church Synod in 1886, were unclear; many blamed the inadequate education system, urbanisation, cheap wages or cultural factors, while others argued that external events such as the rinderpest disease or the Anglo-Boer war added to the numbers of poor whites. Today, poverty is still at the heart of many policy debates in South Africa. A bad educational legacy, urbanisation, labour legislation, culture and tradition, and external factors are still amongst the factors said to be the causes of poverty. This paper assesses the similarities and differences between black poverty today and white poverty a century ago, and suggests possible policy lessons to learn from the past.

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File URL: http://www.ekon.sun.ac.za/wpapers/2006/wp142006/wp-14-2006.pdf
File Function: First version, 2006
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Paper provided by Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 14/2006.

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Date of creation: 2006
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Handle: RePEc:sza:wpaper:wpapers28

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Keywords: poverty; poor white problem; inequality; policy proposals;

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  1. Anne Case & Angus Deaton, 1999. "School Inputs And Educational Outcomes In South Africa," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 114(3), pages 1047-1084, August.
  2. Servaas Van Der Berg & Megan Louw, 2004. "Changing Patterns Of South African Income Distribution: Towards Time Series Estimates Of Distribution And Poverty," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 72(3), pages 546-572, 09.
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