In This Review

The Origins and Demise of South African Apartheid: A Public Choice Analysis
The Origins and Demise of South African Apartheid: A Public Choice Analysis
By Anton D. Lowenberg and William H. Kaempfer
University of Michigan Press, 1998, 284 pp.

Rejecting the notion of states as policymakers, public choice theory views decisions as the product of collective choices made by voters, interest groups, politicians, and bureaucrats seeking to maximize individual interests. This book offers no original insight on apartheid's origins but focuses on its less-studied demise. Using econometric techniques, the authors explore the impact of international economic sanctions and argue that the West designed its sanctions in the 1980s to satisfy domestic interests, not to severely punish apartheid's supporters in South Africa. If sanctions actually did weaken South Africa's economy rather than just inflict psychological damage, they did so because decades of self-inflicted damage resulting from apartheid had already rendered the economy highly vulnerable. The last two chapters are a technocratic sermon to the new powers in Pretoria: politically motivated redistribution of wealth, like that of the apartheid era, will eventually produce economic collapse.