Support for economic reform? Popular attitudes in Southern Africa

Michael Bratton, Robert Mattes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Do ordinary people support programs of economic reform? If so, why? If not, why not? This article breaks new ground by reporting and comparing public opinion from seven Southern African countries based on systematic Afrobarometer surveys. It finds that people support some adjustment policies (such as price reforms) but oppose others (such as institutional reforms). An eclectic explanation is offered for these attitudes that draws on structural factors (especially poverty), cultural values (such as self-reliance), and exposure to mass media. The most formative influence on mass economic opinion in Southern Africa, however, is the institutional legacy of settler colonialism as expressed through race and nation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-323
Number of pages21
JournalWorld Development
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2003


  • Africa
  • south Africa
  • economic reform
  • structural adjustment
  • public opinion

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  • Afrobarometer

    Mattes, R., Gyimah-Boadi, E., Bratton, M., Logan, C., Dulani, B. & Mitullah, W.

    14/09/98 → …

    Project: Research

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