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Essays on categorical inequality, non-linear income dynamics and social mobility in South Africa

Malcolm M Keswell, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This study examines how South African labour markets changed during the first decade in the post-Apartheid era. The results show the emergence of a new form of racial inequality, as witnessed by sharply divergent patterns in the returns to education between Whites and Blacks. Moreover, while this has occurred, the incomes of Blacks are shown to have been far more stagnant over the first five years after democracy than typically thought to be the case, with chance events playing a major role in generating changes that are observed. Finally, chance appears to also be strongly related to changes in employment status, though in this case, its effect is mediated through access to parental resources and risk-sharing networks. These findings suggest that without active policy on a variety of fronts, dealing with persistent labour market discrimination, the poor quality of black schooling, and unemployment and social security provision, little change can be expected in the near future for the vast majority of South Africans. Indeed, the results suggest that emerging trends in South African labour markets could possibly even reverse gains made over the past decade in some areas of social service provision.

Subject Area

Economics|Labor economics|Minority & ethnic groups|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Keswell, Malcolm M, "Essays on categorical inequality, non-linear income dynamics and social mobility in South Africa" (2003). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3110511.