Migration and Urbanization in Post-Apartheid South Africa

60 Pages Posted: 7 Mar 2019

See all articles by Jan Bakker

Jan Bakker

University of Oxford

Christopher Robert Parsons

The University of Western Australia - Department of Economics

Ferdinand Rauch

University of Oxford

Date Written: March 5, 2019

Abstract

Although Africa has experienced rapid urbanization in recent decades, we know little about the process of urbanization across the continent. The paper exploits a natural experiment, the abolition of South African pass laws, to explore how exogenous population shocks affect the spatial distribution of economic activity. Under apartheid, black South Africans were severely restricted in their choice of location and many were forced to live in homelands. Following the abolition of apartheid they were free to migrate. Given a migration cost in distance, a town nearer to the homelands will receive a larger inflow of people than a more distant town following the removal of mobility restrictions. Drawing upon this exogenous variation, the authors study the effect of migration on urbanization in South Africa. While they find that on average there is no endogenous adjustment of population location to a positive population shock, there is heterogeneity in these results. Cities that start off larger do grow endogenously in the wake of a migration shock, while rural areas that start off small do not respond in the same way. This heterogeneity indicates that population shocks lead to an increase in urban relative to rural populations. Overall, the evidence suggests that exogenous migration shocks can foster urbanization in the medium run.

Keywords: Employment and Unemployment, Armed Conflict, Construction Industry, Common Carriers Industry, Food & Beverage Industry, Plastics & Rubber Industry, Textiles, Apparel & Leather Industry, Pulp & Paper Industry, Business Cycles and Stabilization Policies, General Manufacturing, Skills Development and Labor Force Training

Suggested Citation

Bakker, Jan and Parsons, Christopher Robert and Rauch, Ferdinand, Migration and Urbanization in Post-Apartheid South Africa (March 5, 2019). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 8764, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3348141

Jan Bakker (Contact Author)

University of Oxford

Christopher Robert Parsons

The University of Western Australia - Department of Economics ( email )

35 Stirling Highway
Crawley, Western Australia 6009
Australia

Ferdinand Rauch

University of Oxford ( email )

Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
United Kingdom

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