Research on Affirmative Action

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Support for affirmative action in employment
At the national level, the survey results indicate there is broad support for affirmative action as a form of redress in the labour market (Fig. 1). Over the 2003–2009 period, the share of adults in South Africa agreeing or strongly agreeing that there should be racial- and gender-based affirmative action in the workplace ranged in a narrow band between 60 and 70%. More so, the 2006 SASAS survey round found that 68% of participants supported the preferential hiring and promotion of disabled persons. Evaluations of affirmative action were more positive among intended beneficiaries than those belonging to non-beneficiary groups. Therefore, black respondents were more supportive of race-based affirmative action than other population groups, particularly white respondents (Table 1). Over the interval, support among black respondents ranged between four and six times  that of white respondents. In 2009, only 22% of white adults favoured race-based affirmative action in the workplace compared to 76% of black adults. Women were also much more supportive of gender-based affirmative action than men. Another consistent finding is that support for gender-based affirmative action exceeded that of race-based affirmative action by a sizeable margin for all except black respondents. The analysis suggests an inverse relationship between age and affirmative action support, with those aged 16–24 years and 25–34 years most supportive. Robust positive attitudes were also evident among those with no schooling or primary-level education, unemployed work seekers, those with a low living standard, and residents of informal settlements and rural traditional authority areas.

Perceived outcomes of affirmative action

Turning to perceptions of the efficiency of affirmative action in its implementation, the 2009 survey demonstrates that a considerable majority of adult South Africans were positive about the outcomes that affirmative action...
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