In This Review

Class, Race, and Inequality in South Africa
Class, Race, and Inequality in South Africa
By Jeremy Seekings and Nicoli Nattrass
Yale University Press, 2005, 464 pp

South Africa has long had one of the world's most unequal societies. Reducing these inequalities was one of the main objectives of the African National Congress government when it took power in 1994. How successful have post-apartheid governments been? Seekings and Nattrass provide a comprehensive and well-informed account of the evolution of inequality in South Africa since the middle of the twentieth century. They show that interracial inequalities have been reduced in the last 30 years, as the increasing demand for skilled labor has made possible the formation of a black middle class, despite various forms of official discrimination. But intraracial inequalities have increased substantially, and pockets of rural poverty have not benefited at all. In two disquieting chapters at the end of the book, the authors argue convincingly that the ANC has been unable to reverse these trends, so that overall income inequality has continued to increase during the last decade. They conclude with some policy prescriptions, but this otherwise excellent book is weakened by the absence of a political analysis of more aggressive anti-inequality measures. Who would support the reforms they advocate, who would not, and why?