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Is South African Society More Equal Today Than When Apartheid Ended in 1994?


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Speaker(s): Dr Max Price

Recorded on 24 October 2011 in Old Theatre, Old Building.

South Africa was one of the most unequal countries in the world in 1994, with the lines drawn clearly along the racial divide. Since then, the democratic governments have pursued policies aimed at reducing inequality through economic development with relatively high rates of growth throughout most of the period, the provision of over 3 million low cost houses, massive investment in electrification and sanitation in poor areas, land restitution, the creation of a large welfare grant system, and policies on free health care, education, minimum wages and constitutional court rulings forcing government to extend the socio-economic rights prescribed in the constitution. And yet, household surveys and other data sources suggest that inequality in South African society may even have increased. So what is going on?

Max Price is Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Town. Previous to his appointment he was an independent consultant in the fields of public health, health policy, medical education, and human resources for health planning, as well as consultant to the national Department of Education regarding financing of tertiary education of health professionals.

Dr Price has a strong transformation record, built primarily during his tenure as Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of the Witwatersrand from 1996 to 2006. He has an MBBCh degree from the University of the Witwatersrand which he obtained in 1979; a BA PPE (Oxon 1983); an M.Sc in Community Health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine; and a Diploma in Occupational Health from Wits.

A former Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, Four Outstanding Young South Africans Award winner (1992), and Student Representative Council president, Dr Price's professional work has included clinical work in hospitals and rural primary health care; he was a research fellow in health economics at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine from 1986 to 1987; a senior researcher at the Centre for Health Policy and Director of the Centre for Health Policy at Wits University as well as a visiting Takemi Fellow in International Health at the Harvard School of Public Health from 1994 to 1995.

Dr Price has published extensively including 38 local and international refereed journal articles, over 100 other articles, and academic conference papers in health systems research, political economy of health; health economics and financing; privatisation and medical aids; rural health services; computer simulation modelling of health systems; medical education and human resources.

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