Date of Award

Summer 7-15-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Jane Menken

Second Advisor

Jason Boardman

Third Advisor

Jill Williams


South Africa formally began its transition into a neoliberal, democratic country in 1994 with its first elections. Although Black Africans gained equal access to public services and the freedom to relocate to formerly restricted areas, massive unemployment throughout South Africa during the post-apartheid era has prevented the majority of Black Africans from overcoming apartheid-era poverty. This dissertation aims to document the economic activity of a population in the former homeland of Gazankulu.

Understanding the economic activities in former homelands is tricky. The labor migrant system under apartheid has continued into the post-apartheid era. Through labor migration, the economic activities of these populations occur outside the former homelands. The definitive source of employment and labor force data in South Africa is the Quarterly Labour Force Survey, formerly the Labour Force Survey. This survey uses a de facto population in which individuals are enumerated only if they have been recently present in the sampled households. This distorts our understanding of rural unemployment because it captures the economic activities only of those who do not engage in labor migration.

This study uses data collected by the Agincourt Health and Demographic Surveillance Study (AHDSS) to evaluate the employment activities of the population within the AHDSS study site. As these data include a broadly defined, de jure household, this dissertation speaks to the employment of both labor migrants and non-migrants. The analyses presented in this dissertation reveal the limitations of survey data that use de facto populations in contexts where labor migration is high.