Annual Forum Papers

Capital Flight from South Africa, 1980 to 2000

  • Year: 2004
  • Author(s): Seeraj Mohammed; Kade Finnoff
  • Countries and Regions: South Africa

Capital flight is a serious problem for South Africa, which if not addressed will continue to impede its ability to deal with structural issues such as high unemployment and concentration of wealth. This paper presents an estimate of the wealth that left South Africa in the form of capital flight during the period 1980 to 2000. We find that from 1980 to 2000 average capital flight as a percentage of GDP was 6.6 percent a year. In this paper, we deviate from the existing literature on capital flight from South Africa by suggesting that the motivation of people involved in capital flight before and after the fall of apartheid may have changed. We find that capital flight as a percentage of GDP was higher after the democratic elections in 1994, even though, there was much more political and economic instability during the period investigated before the democratic elections. The increase in capital flight as a percentage of GDP may reflect the discomfort of those involved in capital flight in the post-apartheid democratic process. We also consider how international capital flows and structural weaknesses in the economy have influenced capital flight.