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Social Structures and Income Distribution in Colonial sub-Saharan Africa: The case of Bechuanaland Protectorate 1936-1964

Bolt, Jutta and Hillbom, Ellen LU (2013) Swedish Economic History Meeting, 2013
Abstract
In this paper we present a working hypothesis that there is need to further analyze Botswana’s colonial era if we are to understand several aspects of contemporary economic structures. Our focus is on identifying the roots of post-independence high levels of inequality. We have constructed social tables for 1936-1964, covering all but the very first decades of colonial rule, and based on them we have presented some interesting findings. First, migrant labour to neighbouring South Africa earned well relative to domestic labour in the Protectorate, both in the formal and traditional sectors. Remittances their families back home and became an important strategy for the poorer segments of society to stay at or above subsistence. Second, the... (More)
In this paper we present a working hypothesis that there is need to further analyze Botswana’s colonial era if we are to understand several aspects of contemporary economic structures. Our focus is on identifying the roots of post-independence high levels of inequality. We have constructed social tables for 1936-1964, covering all but the very first decades of colonial rule, and based on them we have presented some interesting findings. First, migrant labour to neighbouring South Africa earned well relative to domestic labour in the Protectorate, both in the formal and traditional sectors. Remittances their families back home and became an important strategy for the poorer segments of society to stay at or above subsistence. Second, the creation of a beef export sector in the 1930s brought with it new opportunities to access export incomes and starting in the 1940s this led to increasing income inequalities and a polarization in cattle holdings. Third, wages for government officials were forging ahead creating an increasing income divide between public and private formal employment. In conclusion we infer that Botswana’s contemporary institutional inequality has far reaching historical roots. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to conference
publication status
unpublished
subject
keywords
Botswana, Bechuanaland, inequality, social tables
conference name
Swedish Economic History Meeting, 2013
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
938572c4-bec6-4335-860a-4c7c7145281d (old id 4194959)
date added to LUP
2013-12-12 11:16:15
date last changed
2016-07-04 14:03:02
@misc{938572c4-bec6-4335-860a-4c7c7145281d,
  abstract     = {In this paper we present a working hypothesis that there is need to further analyze Botswana’s colonial era if we are to understand several aspects of contemporary economic structures. Our focus is on identifying the roots of post-independence high levels of inequality. We have constructed social tables for 1936-1964, covering all but the very first decades of colonial rule, and based on them we have presented some interesting findings. First, migrant labour to neighbouring South Africa earned well relative to domestic labour in the Protectorate, both in the formal and traditional sectors. Remittances their families back home and became an important strategy for the poorer segments of society to stay at or above subsistence. Second, the creation of a beef export sector in the 1930s brought with it new opportunities to access export incomes and starting in the 1940s this led to increasing income inequalities and a polarization in cattle holdings. Third, wages for government officials were forging ahead creating an increasing income divide between public and private formal employment. In conclusion we infer that Botswana’s contemporary institutional inequality has far reaching historical roots.},
  author       = {Bolt, Jutta and Hillbom, Ellen},
  keyword      = {Botswana,Bechuanaland,inequality,social tables},
  language     = {eng},
  title        = {Social Structures and Income Distribution in Colonial sub-Saharan Africa: The case of Bechuanaland Protectorate 1936-1964},
  year         = {2013},
}