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Working paper

WP10: Political economic values and economic reform in Southern Africa

Michael Bratton and Robert Mattes 15 Aug 2001 Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe
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The Afrobarometer contributes new insights into the nature, extent, and sources of popular economic ortientations in Southern Africa. Surveys conducted in seven countries in 1999-2000 indicate that mass publics do not automatically reject the constituent policies of structural adjustment or the economic values that underlie them. Public opinion varies greatly and cannot be neatly characterized as simply pro- or anti-reform. Nor do people derive their economic values and attitudes from their own immediate material circumstances. While liberal economic attitudes are reduced by poverty, such attitudes are increased by exposure to education and the news media. Moreover, the respondent’s race and nationality shape support for economic reform, with whites in Zimbabwe and South Africa being the most supportive. A racially polarized distribution of policy preferences, however, poses a challenge for the future viability of a market-based development strategy in the region.

Michael Bratton

Michael is a board member at Afrobarometer

Robert Mattes

Robert is a professor of politics at the University of Strathclyde a co-founder of Afrobarometer.