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Labor Markets During Apartheid in South Africa


  • Martine Mariotti



Conventional wisdom holds that international political pressure and domestic civil unrest in the mid-1970s and 1980s brought an end to apartheid in South Africa. I show that, prior to these events, labor market pressure in the late 1960s/early 1970s caused a dramatic unraveling of apartheid in the workplace. Increased educational attainment among whites reduced resistance to opening semi-skilled jobs to Africans. This institutional change reflected white economic preferences rather than a relaxation of attitudes toward apartheid. I show that whites benefited from the relaxation of job reservation rules and that this is the primary cause of black occupational advancement.

Suggested Citation

  • Martine Mariotti, 2009. "Labor Markets During Apartheid in South Africa," ANU Working Papers in Economics and Econometrics 2009-503, Australian National University, College of Business and Economics, School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:acb:cbeeco:2009-503

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Knight, J B & McGrath, M D, 1977. "An Analysis of Racial Wage Discrimination in South Africa," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 39(4), pages 245-271, November.
    2. Lawrence F. Katz & Kevin M. Murphy, 1992. "Changes in Relative Wages, 1963–1987: Supply and Demand Factors," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(1), pages 35-78.
    3. Goldin, Claudia, 1992. "Understanding the Gender Gap: An Economic History of American Women," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195072709, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Daron Acemoglu & James A. Robinson, 2015. "The Rise and Decline of General Laws of Capitalism," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 29(1), pages 3-28, Winter.
    2. Bokang Mpeta & Johan Fourie & Kris Inwood, 2017. "Black living standards in South Africa before democracy: New evidence from heights," Working Papers 10/2017, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    3. Martine Mariotti & Juergen Meinecke, 2009. "Nonparametric Bounds on Returns to Education in South Africa: Overcoming Ability and Selection Bias," ANU Working Papers in Economics and Econometrics 2009-510, Australian National University, College of Business and Economics, School of Economics.
    4. Carlos Gradín, 2017. "Occupational segregation by race in South Africa after apartheid," WIDER Working Paper Series 073, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).

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    JEL classification:

    • N37 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Africa; Oceania
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing

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