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Extreme Inequality and the Structure of Political Cleavages in South Africa, 1994-2019

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  • Amory Gethin

    (PSE - Paris School of Economics - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - ENS-PSL - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement, PJSE - Paris Jourdan Sciences Economiques - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - ENS-PSL - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement, WIL - World Inequality Lab)

Abstract

This paper draws on political attitudes surveys conducted at the time of general elections to study the interplay of social inequalities, changing social structures, and racial cleavages in South Africa since 1994. I analyze the link between voting behaviors and the main socioeconomic characteristics of voters, in particular income, education level, wealth, race, and their interactions. I document extreme socioeconomic political divides, which are strongly, though not entirely explained by South Africa's exceptional racial inequalities. The gradual decline of the dominant African National Congress since 1994 has been driven by the shift of the new Black middle class towards opposition parties. Growing abstention among the youth and the lower-educated has further eroded support for the ANC. I also put South Africa's cleavage politics in comparative perspective, focusing on how the transformation of dominant-party systems in new democracies plays a role in crystallizing new sociopolitical identities.

Suggested Citation

  • Amory Gethin, 2020. "Extreme Inequality and the Structure of Political Cleavages in South Africa, 1994-2019," PSE Working Papers halshs-03022282, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:psewpa:halshs-03022282
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://shs.hal.science/halshs-03022282
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Thomas Piketty, 2018. "Brahmin Left vs Merchant Right: Rising Inequality & the Changing Structure of Political Conflict," Working Papers hal-02878211, HAL.
    2. Aroop Chatterjee & Léo Czajka & Amory Gethin, 2020. "Estimating the Distribution of Household Wealth in South Africa," Working Papers hal-02876974, HAL.
    3. Feinstein,Charles H., 2005. "An Economic History of South Africa," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521616416.
    4. Robert Mattes, 2015. "South Africa's Emerging Black Middle Class: A Harbinger of Political Change?," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 27(5), pages 665-692, July.
    5. Amory Gethin & Thanasak Jenmana, 2021. "Democratization and the Construction of Class Cleavages in Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia, 1992-2019," World Inequality Lab Working Papers halshs-03215872, HAL.
    6. Abhijit Banerjee & Amory Gethin & Thomas Piketty, 2019. "Growing Cleavages in India? Evidence from the Changing Structure of Party Electorates, 1962-2014," World Inequality Lab Working Papers hal-02877001, HAL.
    7. Murray Leibbrandt & Ingrid Woolard & Arden Finn & Jonathan Argent, 2010. "Trends in South African Income Distribution and Poverty since the Fall of Apartheid," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 101, OECD Publishing.
    8. Facundo Alvaredo & Anthony B Atkinson, 2010. "Colonial Rule, Apartheid and Natural Resources: Top Incomes in South Africa 1903-2005," OxCarre Working Papers 046, Oxford Centre for the Analysis of Resource Rich Economies, University of Oxford.
    9. Brownback, Andy & Novotny, Aaron, 2018. "Social desirability bias and polling errors in the 2016 presidential election," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 38-56.
    10. Feinstein,Charles H., 2005. "An Economic History of South Africa," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521850919.
    11. Servaas van der Berg & Megan Louw, 2003. "Changing Patterns of South African income distribution: Towards time series estimates of distribution and poverty," Working Papers 02/2003, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
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    Cited by:

    1. Amory Gethin, & Sultan Mehmood & Thomas Piketty, 2020. "Social Inequality and the Dynamics of Political and Ethnolinguistic Divides in Pakistan, 1970-2018," Working Papers halshs-03022253, HAL.
    2. Jules Baleyte & Amory Gethin & Yajna Govind & Thomas Piketty, 2020. "Social Inequalities and the Politicization of Ethnic Cleavages in Botswana, Ghana, Nigeria, and Senegal, 1999-2019," Working Papers halshs-03022210, HAL.
    3. Amory Gethin & Thanasak Jenmana, 2021. "Democratization and the Construction of Class Cleavages in Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia, 1992-2019," World Inequality Lab Working Papers halshs-03215872, HAL.
    4. Carmen Durrer de La Sota & Amory Gethin, 2021. "Inequality, Identity, and the Structure of Political Cleavages in South Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, 1996-2016," Working Papers halshs-03165716, HAL.

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