The Natural Limits of Segregation and Re-Integraton: Race, Space, and Voting in the New South Africa
38 Pages Posted: 26 Sep 2014 Last revised: 13 Oct 2015
Date Written: December 10, 2014
Racial segregation results from economic, political, and social forces. We propose a new channel: natural geography may have an enabling effect on segregation. Natural physical barriers may enable states, or citizens of powerful in-groups, to partition urban and suburban spaces by race. We study the South African context, in which the fall of Apartheid in 1994 allowed for a rapid influx of black South Africans into previously exclusively white urban areas. We show that the presence of natural physical barriers enabled sustained segregation, differentially retarding the re-integration of diversity into former racial enclaves. We then explore the political consequences of sustained segregation by considering the effect of changes in the white share of the population on political behavior. We find that sustaining segregation leads whites-only areas to become less likely to vote for a non-white party, evidence in favor of recent theories that see racial contact as a positive force.
Keywords: segregation, reintegration, apartheid, South Africa
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