The Origins and Demise of South African Apartheid

A Public Choice Analysis
Anton D. Lowenberg and William H. Kaempfer
Examines the economic interests that led to apartheid, the changes that led to its dismantling, and the prospects for postapartheid South African society


In the early 1990s, South Africa experienced a remarkable transition to democracy. Nelson Mandela was freed from prison, his previously outlawed ANC was legalized, and all-race elections were held in 1994. What motivated South Africa's former white leaders to hand over the reins of power to a black government? And what are the prospects for economic and political freedom in post-apartheid South Africa?

The Origins and Demise of South African Apartheid addresses these questions, using public choice models to distill the essence of apartheid, to examine the reasons for its emergence in the first instance, and to study its subsequent evolution as the economy's structure changed. The authors evaluate the role of foreign economic sanctions and other international pressures in precipitating the fall of apartheid but find that domestic economic problems, caused by apartheid policies themselves, were more important than foreign sanctions in crippling the South African economy. Further perpetuation of apartheid would have meant even further declines in living standards for white as well as black South Africans.

The authors also examine the postapartheid constitution for clues on South Africa's future prosperity. Finally they identify procedural and substantive weaknesses in the constitution that need to be addressed in order to create the foundations for a truly free society.

The book will appeal to a wide audience of economists and political scientists, especially those interested in public choice and comparative systems, as well as to South Africa scholars in the fields of political science, history, and economics.

Anton D. Lowenberg is Professor of Economics, California State University, Northridge.

William H. Kaempfer is Professor of Economics, University of Colorado, Boulder.

Praise / Awards

  • "Lowenberg and Kaempfer employ public choice analysis tools to explain apartheid and the role of economic sanctions in its collapse. . . . In sum, the authors present forceful arguments that apartheid's rise and fall reflected the interests of dominant groups within South Africa."

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 296pp.
  • 5 drawings, 17 tables.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 1998
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-10905-0

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  • $94.95 U.S.