IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/unu/wpaper/wp2016-066.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Affirmative action policies and the evolution of post-apartheid South Africa's racial wage gap

Author

Listed:
  • Rulof Burger
  • Rachel Jafta
  • Dieter von Fintel

Abstract

Racial wage inequality and discrimination have pervaded South African society for centuries. Apartheid legislation cemented these disparities by institutionalizing white job reservation and many other unfair practices. While racial wage gaps started to decline towards the end of apartheid, they increased (against all expectations) in the immediate post-transition period. Affirmative action legislation was enacted with a lag, first targeting employment equity and skills development in 1998 and then more extensive .black economic empowerment. in 2003. However, the rise in the racial wage gap only started to reverse in 2005. Existing studies therefore report limited effects of affirmative action policies, with highly skilled occupations still dominated by white men, and racial wage gaps remaining higher than in 1997. This paper develops an updated decomposition methodology that tracks changes in the discrimination component of the wage gap over time. It accounts for biases attributable to changing generational composition of labour market entrants and retirees: this variation is typically incorrectly measured as time evolution, and by implication attributes demographic movements to the effect of policy changes. New evidence shows that 2003 was a turning point, when black. white discrimination started to decline continuously thereafter. The continuing trend suggests that this is a permanent legislative effect rather than a business cycle dividend. However, generational changes (separate from policy effects) have not yet reached a turning point. Results also indicate that the legislation has alleviated previous barriers.by which black wages did not benefit from economic growth before affirmative action legislation was implemented. Notably, the time decline in discrimination can be attributed to the large and growing returns to tertiary education, especially for black men after successive waves of reforms were enacted.

Suggested Citation

  • Rulof Burger & Rachel Jafta & Dieter von Fintel, 2016. "Affirmative action policies and the evolution of post-apartheid South Africa's racial wage gap," WIDER Working Paper Series 066, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  • Handle: RePEc:unu:wpaper:wp2016-066
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://www.wider.unu.edu/sites/default/files/wp2016-66.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    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. Geeta Gandhi Kingdon & John Knight, 2004. "Race and the Incidence of Unemployment in South Africa," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 8(2), pages 198-222, May.
    3. Nicola Branson & Martin Wittenberg, 2014. "Reweighting South African National Household Survey Data to Create a Consistent Series Over Time: A Cross-Entropy Estimation Approach," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 82(1), pages 19-38, March.
    4. Haroon Bhorat & Ravi Kanbur & Natasha Mayet, 2013. "The impact of sectoral minimum wage laws on employment, wages, and hours of work in South Africa," IZA Journal of Labor & Development, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 2(1), pages 1-27, December.
    5. Becker, Gary S, 1993. "Nobel Lecture: The Economic Way of Looking at Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 385-409, June.
    6. Johan Fourie & Dieter von Fintel, 2010. "The dynamics of inequality in a newly settled, pre-industrial society: the case of the Cape Colony," Cliometrica, Journal of Historical Economics and Econometric History, Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC), vol. 4(3), pages 229-267, October.
    7. Maciej, Szelewicki & Tyrowicz, Joanna, 2009. "Labour Market Racial Discrimination in South Africa Revisited," MPRA Paper 16440, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. David J. McKenzie, 2006. "Disentangling Age, Cohort and Time Effects in the Additive Model," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 68(4), pages 473-495, August.
    9. Oaxaca, Ronald, 1973. "Male-Female Wage Differentials in Urban Labor Markets," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 14(3), pages 693-709, October.
    10. Mich Brookes & Timothy Hinks, 2004. "The Racial Employment Gap In South Africa," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 72(3), pages 573-580, September.
    11. David Neumark & Harry Holzer, 2000. "Assessing Affirmative Action," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(3), pages 483-568, September.
    12. Jeff Biddle & Daniel Hamermesh, 2013. "Wage discrimination over the business cycle," IZA Journal of Labor Policy, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 2(1), pages 1-19, December.
    13. H. Bhorat & J. Hodge, 1999. "Decomposing Shifts in Labour Demand in South Africa," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 67(3), pages 155-168, September.
    14. Alan S. Blinder, 1973. "Wage Discrimination: Reduced Form and Structural Estimates," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 8(4), pages 436-455.
    15. Rulof Burger & Derek Yu, 2006. "Wage trends in post-apartheid South Africa: Constructing an earnings series from household survey data," Working Papers 10/2006, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    16. Lundberg, Shelly J & Startz, Richard, 1983. "Private Discrimination and Social Intervention in Competitive Labor Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(3), pages 340-347, June.
    17. 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.
    18. Servaas van der Berg, 2007. "Apartheid's Enduring Legacy: Inequalities in Education-super- 1," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 16(5), pages 849-880, November.
    19. Stephen Fienberg, 2013. "Cohort Analysis’ Unholy Quest: A Discussion," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 50(6), pages 1981-1984, December.
    20. Malcolm Keswell & Laura Poswell, 2004. "Returns To Education In South Africa: A Retrospective Sensitivity Analysis Of The Available Evidence," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 72(4), pages 834-860, September.
    21. Nicola Branson, 2009. "Re-weighting the OHS and LFS National household Survey Data to create a consistent series over time: A Cross Entropy Estimation Approach," SALDRU Working Papers 38, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.
    22. Coate, Stephen & Loury, Glenn C, 1993. "Will Affirmative-Action Policies Eliminate Negative Stereotypes?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1220-1240, December.
    23. Allanson, Paul & Atkins, Jonathan P & Hinks, Timothy, 2002. "No End to the Racial Wage Hierarchy in South Africa?," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 6(3), pages 442-459, October.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Dieter von Fintel & Eldridge Moses, 2017. "Migration and gender in South Africa: following bright lights and the fortunes of others?," Working Papers 09/2017, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics, revised 2018.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    affirmative action; discrimination; decomposition techniques; South Africa;

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:unu:wpaper:wp2016-066. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mauricio Roa Grisales). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/widerfi.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.