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An Alternative Perspective On South Africa'S Public Debt, 1962‐1994




The history of public debt reflects the cumulative effect of fiscal decisions and real outcomes in the economy. In the South African case the published record on public debt distorts the historical perspective on the associated fiscal decisions. This note shows the impact of adjusting the South African public debt on an accrual basis to take account of two major obligations assumed in the first half of the 1990s, namely actuarial pension fund deficits and government debt of the apartheid homelands. The adjusted series is less volatile and rose less steeply between 1989 and 1996 than the official, cash based debt series. Failing to account for the evolution of these obligations exaggerates the impression of weak fiscal discipline in the early nineties and exemplary fiscal prudence in preceding decades.
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Suggested Citation

  • Estian Calitz & Stan Du Plessis & Krige Siebrits, 2011. "An Alternative Perspective On South Africa'S Public Debt, 1962‐1994," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 79(2), pages 161-172, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:sajeco:v:79:y:2011:i:2:p:161-172

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Tania Ajam & Aron Janine, 2007. "Fiscal Renaissance in a Democratic South Africa," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 16(5), pages 745-781, November.
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    JEL classification:

    • H62 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Deficit; Surplus
    • H63 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Debt; Debt Management; Sovereign Debt
    • G23 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Non-bank Financial Institutions; Financial Instruments; Institutional Investors


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