The effect of affirmative action on the reduction of employment discrimination
South African labour relations are associated with a history of extensive discrimination and segregation, subject to various types of discrimination during the apartheid era, including employment discrimination. This study explores the effect of Affirmative Action on the reduction (if any) of employment discrimination since the advent of democracy. It investigates whether the extent of employment discrimination by race and gender has decreased, 20 years since the economic transition. The first part of the study gives an overview of the South African labour legislations, both discriminative legislations and statutes aimed at redressing the imbalances of the past. The empirical part of the paper employs a sample that represents the labour force (excluding informal sector workers, agricultural workers, domestic workers and self-employed) aged between 15 and 65 years. The methodology in this study firstly estimates probit models describing the labour force participation, employment and occupational attainment, followed by the Oaxaca-Blinder decomposition, using data from OHS 1997-1999, LFS 2000-2007, QLFS 2008-2014 and NIDS 2008-2012. The OHS/LFS/QLFS decomposition results show that the unexplained component of the White-Black employment probability gap does not reveal any strong downward trend overtime. Also, results on the occupational attainment gap indicate that there was an increasing occupational attainment probability gap between Whites and Blacks which was partially driven by an increase in the unexplained component. This implies that Affirmative Action was not successful in reducing racial discrimination in the South African labour market. Additionally, the unexplained component is most dominant in the male-female employment gap decomposition. This suggests employment discrimination against females is very serious. However, the male-female highly-skilled employment likelihood shows no clear trend over time. These results suggest that when it comes to employment discrimination against females, this may have taken place more seriously when it comes to the unskilled or semi-skilled occupations.