The South African poor white problem in the early 20th century: Lessons for poverty today

Stellenbosch Working Paper Series No. WP14/2006
 
Publication date: 2006
 
Author(s):
[protected email address] (Department of Economics, University of Stellenbosch)
 
Abstract:

The causes of the poor white problem, first noted at a Dutch Reformed Church Synod in 1886, were unclear; many blamed the inadequate education system, urbanisation, cheap wages or cultural factors, while others argued that external events such as the rinderpest disease or the Anglo-Boer war added to the numbers of poor whites. Today, poverty is still at the heart of many policy debates in South Africa. A bad educational legacy, urbanisation, labour legislation, culture and tradition, and external factors are still amongst the factors said to be the causes of poverty. This paper assesses the similarities and differences between black poverty today and white poverty a century ago, and suggests possible policy lessons to learn from the past.

 
JEL Classification:

N37, N97, I31

Keywords:

poverty, poor white problem, inequality, policy proposals

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BER Weekly

21 January
Domestically, markets were focused on the latest meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the SA Reserve Bank (SARB) last week. On the global front, the news flow was dominated by British political chaos associated with the Brexit debacle. Besides a brief overview of the MPC decision, the domestic section looks at the latest retail sales data,...

Read the full issue