The Economic History Review

Labour markets during apartheid in South Africa1

Volume 65 Issue 3
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Pages: 1100-1122Authors: MARTINE MARIOTTI
Published online: August 19, 2011DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0289.2011.00621.x

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Anecdotal evidence shows that despite extensive restrictions on the hiring of African workers, these workers were increasingly employed in semi-skilled occupations throughout the apartheid era. This article shows that White skill acquisition throughout the apartheid era reduced the supply of White semi-skilled workers and led to the removal of job reservation, the process of reserving skilled and semi-skilled jobs for Whites. Although job reservation declined, there is little evidence of a decline in racial segregation in the labour market. It is concluded that the transformation in the labour market was driven by White economic incentives rather than any evident change in White preferences regarding racial segregation.