Moving across Boundaries: Migration in South Africa, 1950-2000

Holly E. Reed, Queens College, City University of New York (CUNY)

Existing knowledge about the actual historical patterns of black migration within South Africa is incomplete at best, because of the lack of good life course studies and the apartheid government’s suppression and censoring of data about the black population. This paper attempts to remedy this using an analysis of individual retrospective migration life history data from a nationally representative sample of the black population collected in 2000. The results indicate that almost all types of voluntary migration have significantly increased among black South Africans during the last half of the 20th century, and that this increase began well before the official end of apartheid in 1991 or the first free election in 1994. The increase in migration rates began before the Pass Laws were repealed in 1986, which suggests that defiance of the Pass Laws (albeit a dangerous proposition) was a necessary way of life for many black South Africans.

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Presented in Session 170: The Structuring of Internal Migration