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The dynamics of inequality in a newly settled, preindustrial society: The case of the Cape Colony

Johan Fourie and Dieter von Fintel
Publication date: 
July 2009
Inequality is a major concern in many of the world’s developing regions. South Africa is no exception, as the voluminous literature on the subject attests to (see Bhorat and Kanbur 2006, for example). Indeed, modern South Africa is one of the most unequal societies in the world, primarily as a result of institutionalised inequality under colonial segregation and Apartheid, but potentially also stemming from the set of institutions created much earlier under Dutch and British colonial rule (Terreblanche 2002). This paper will investigate inequality in the early colonial period. It is apparent in the literature that inequality is severely persistent; countries that exhibit high inequality from early stages of development generally continue to do so later on, while few policy prescriptions are successful in reversing the trend, even in times of high and sustained economic growth.
Publication PDF: 
Series title: 
Working Paper 134