It is generally accepted that the gap between the earnings of unskilled and semi-skilled workers on the one hand, and skilled and highly skilled workers, on the other, narrowed in South Africa during the 1970s and 1980s. This paper investigates whether the gap between the real earnings of highly skilled and low-skilled workers in the formal sector of the South African economy continued to narrow after this country's transition to democracy. Statistics South Africa's October Household Survey and Labour Force Survey data covering the period 1995 to 2003 are analysed, and the authors also assess changes in the earnings gap between whites and other race groups in that period, and between men and women.
Ingrid Woolard is a senior researcher in the employment and economic policy research program of the Human Sciences Research Council in South Africa. Chris Woolard is a senior lecturer in the department of chemistry at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.