Born a Crime

by Trevor Noah

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Student Question

Explain the disparity in unemployment post-apartheid as described in Born a Crime.

Quick answer:

The disparity in unemployment following apartheid is described in Born a Crime as a consequence of the sudden increase in labor costs. As a result, the unemployment rate among young Black men shot up by as high as fifty percent.

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As described by Trevor Noah in Born a Crime, the end of the system of racial oppression known as apartheid was unequivocally a good thing. Yet at the same time, he acknowledges that the dismantling of apartheid brought with it a number of challenges.

One of the most pressing of these challenges was the huge spike in unemployment among young Black men that took place after the end of apartheid. During the years of apartheid, virtually all Black people had a job because the cost of labor was so low.

To be sure, such jobs were low-paid and involved a good deal of exploitation. As the Black majority had no rights to speak of, their white employers could treat them pretty much how they pleased. Even so, the unemployment rate was technically lower than it was in the post-apartheid years.

With the arrival of democracy came the legal requirement for everyone to be paid a minimum wage. This pushed up the cost of labor, which in turn precipitated a huge increase in unemployment. The unemployment rate among young Black men shot up by as much as fifty percent.

As Noah points out, a lot of these young men don't finish high school. And in any case, they can't afford to go to university even if they do graduate. What's more, they find it hard to get even low-paid retail jobs on account of prejudice against how they look and how they talk. And so they spend all day sitting on the corner chilling out and shooting the breeze.

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