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Long-Run Effects of Forced Resettlement: Evidence from Apartheid South Africa

  • Martin Abel (a1)


In an attempt to divide and marginalize the black population, the apartheid regime forcefully relocated some 3.5 million South Africans to rural homelands between 1960 and 1980. This event, considered one of history’s largest social engineering exercises, created overcrowded and economically deprived communities of displaced people. This article uses geo-coded data to explore the long-term effects of removals on current measures of social capital. Comparing people within the same homeland, I show that those living close to former resettlement camps have higher levels of trust towards members of their social network, people in general, and members of other ethnic groups. These findings are important, as solidarity among suppressed people is believed to be a critical factor in explaining the demise of the apartheid regime.

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This paper greatly benefited from discussions with and comments from Willa Brown, Christian Dippel, James Fenske, Price Fishback, Johan Fourie, Rema Hanna, Richard Hornbeck, Daniel de Kadt, Edward Kerby, Horacio Larreguy, Brendan Maughan-Brown, Nathan Nunn, Elizabeth Walker, Laurence Wilse-Samson, Francis Wilson, and seminar participants at Harvard University, Stellenbosch University, and the University of Cape Town. Simeon Abel provided excellent research assistance. All errors and omissions remain fully my responsibility.



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Long-Run Effects of Forced Resettlement: Evidence from Apartheid South Africa

  • Martin Abel (a1)


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