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Neoliberalism and economic justice in South Africa: revisiting the debate on economic apartheid

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  • Geoffrey Schneider
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    Although the political environment in South Africa is vastly improved, economic apartheid still exists: the economic divisions along racial lines created by apartheid are still in place today. Despite these divisions, neoliberal economists continue to press for a largely unregulated market system, which is unlikely to improve the lives of most black South Africans. This paper documents the role neoliberal economic theory has played and is continuing to play in frustrating and opposing fundamental change in the distribution of land, income and assets in South Africa. Neoliberal policies stem from an ideological attachment to free markets, rather than a substantive analysis of how market forces play out in an unequal society like that in South Africa. By choosing to focus on narrowly defined economic criteria such as GDP growth and allocative efficiency, neoliberal economists marginalize the vast problems created by inequality and poverty and thus overlook the potential benefits of a redistributive strategy. Neoliberal economic policies have been installed in South Africa by the ANC via GEAR and other policy initiatives, but these policies have made little progress in solving South Africa's economic problems.

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    Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Review of Social Economy.

    Volume (Year): 61 (2003)
    Issue (Month): 1 ()
    Pages: 23-50

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    Handle: RePEc:taf:rsocec:v:61:y:2003:i:1:p:23-50
    DOI: 10.1080/0034676032000050257
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    1. T. Moll, 1991. "Growth Through Redistribution: A Dangerous Fantasy?," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 59(3), pages 181-190, 09.
    2. Jessica Gordon Nembhard & William Darity, 2000. "Racial and Ethnic Economic Inequality: The International Record," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 308-311, May.
    3. R.A.A. Saber & W.L. Nieuwoudt, 1992. "The Principles of Justice and Rural Land Reform in South Africa," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 60(2), pages 122-130, 06.
    4. George Sherer, 2000. "Intergroup Economic Inequality in South Africa: The Post-apartheid Era," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 317-321, May.
    5. J. H. Cooper, 1991. "Distributive Justice, Welfare Economics and Liberalism," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 59(1), pages 34-41, 03.
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