New SALDRU Research Quantifies Impact of Apartheid Era Racial Classification on Wages

One’s racial classification dominated all aspects of one’s life in apartheid South Africa. In a ground-breaking study, SALDRU’s Vimal Ranchhod attempts to quantify the impact of racial classification on people’s incomes.

Ranchhod, who cautions that this research is still a work in progress, exposes the absurdity of the apartheid logic by examining a specific group of people in the Western Cape who lived on the edges of racial classification — who could have been classified either White or Coloured. According to Ranchhod, “Being classified as White instead of Coloured more than tripled a male’s income. The estimates imply that around 80% of the raw income difference between White and Coloured men was due exclusively to an individual’s racial classification.”

Ranchhod conducted the study in collaboration Miquel Pellicer of University College Dublin. He presented the study to the 7th meeting of the African Economic History Network in Stellenbosch on 26 October 2017.