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Capital Accumulation and Macro Policy in South Africa: Political Instability, Distributive Conflict, and Economic Institutions

This paper explores the institutional factors behind the crisis of capital accumulation in South Africa in the 1970s and 1980s. Because of its focus on institutional stability, the paper contributes to the literature on the existence of an apartheid social structure of accumulation in which economic and political institutions are important determinants of investment. Investment function estimates show that political instability accounted for most of the fall in the rate of accumulation, independent of distributive outcomes, such as the level of profitability. Based on these findings, the paper argues that tensions between political stability, democratic reforms, and distributive outcomes prompted the adoption of market-oriented macroeconomic policies in the post-apartheid era that have so far failed to move the economy away from the low rates of accumulation characteristic of recent decades.


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