Working Paper
Structural transformation, inequality, and inclusive growth in South Africa

This paper evaluates structural change, inequality dynamics, and industrial policy in South Africa between 1960 and the present day.

We find that South Africa experienced growth-enhancing structural transformation until the early 1970s, before entering a period of premature deindustrialization.

Today, the services sector has become the primary driver of growth and employment in the country, while the agriculture, mining, and manufacturing sectors have declined in relative importance.

While the post-apartheid government has systematically strengthened its pro-poor policies, the high levels of poverty, unemployment, and inequality forged under the past race-based colonial and apartheid regimes remain stagnant.

The future of South Africa’s structural transformation and inclusive growth path rests on the ability of the country to move into more skills-intensive and higher value-added manufacturing, while also promoting employment-enhancing services subsectors.