Mines and migrants in South Africa
Lucas, Robert E.B.
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Between 1971 and 1978 wages of more than half a million nonwhite laborers in the South African mines tripled in real terms. In the same period, the nonwhites employed in the mines switched from being 62 percent foreign to 62 percent domestic. These changes followed a period -- from 1911 to 1971 -during which real wages of black gold miners did not rise, and terminated almost a century of reliance on foreign labor "reserves" for the majority of such labor. These dramatic events are examined here in the context of an econometric model of the demand for labor by the South African mining sector from 1946 to 1980. This affords an unusual opportunity to study the demand side of a market for internal and international migrants, in a society where racial discrimination is formalized in- the apartheid system, where powerful mining houses wield potential monopsony power, and political factors in the region are major determinants of economic behavior. To comprehend the derived demand for workers in this sector, it is essential to outline at least certain aspects of the industry's organization and that of the market for labor. This is undertaken in section I, section II develops a stylized model, which is then estimated, from data described in III, for the gold, diamond, coal and other minerals sectors separately in section IV.
African Studies Center Working Paper No. 106
RightsCopyright © 1985, by the author.