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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Democracy and Distribution in Highly Unequal Economies: The Case of South Africa
Authors:Nattrass, Nicoli J.ISNI
Seekings, JeremyISNI
Year:2001
Periodical:Journal of Modern African Studies
Volume:39
Issue:3
Period:September
Pages:471-498
Language:English
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:democracy
income distribution
Politics and Government
Economics and Trade
Labor and Employment
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/3557320
Abstract:Among the countries that have democratized as part of the 'Third Wave' are some, like South Africa, with extreme levels of economic inequality. It might be expected that the establishment of representative democracy would result in the adoption of redistributive policies. Yet overall inequality has not declined since 1994. This, together with the ANC's adoption of conservative, orthodox fiscal policies, has led some analysts to conclude that the ANC has betrayed its revolutionary commitments. This article outlines the shortcomings of this perception. It shows that the fact that poor South Africans have the vote ensures that some areas of public policy do help the poor. The postapartheid government not only inherited a surprisingly redistributive set of social policies, but has made changes that entail even more redistribution. Even though overall measures of inequality have not changed, the nature of inequality has altered dramatically. The steady decline in wage and job discrimination, upward occupational mobility, and increased bargaining power through legal trade unions have resulted in increases in real wages for working African people and a steady fall in interracial inequality. However, the government's redistributive policies have done little to help a core section of the poor: the unemployed. Furthermore, labour market and other economic policies serve to steer the economy down a growth path that shuts out many of the unskilled and unemployed. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum.
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