Changes in small towns in South Africa’s Karoo

Etienne Nel, B Taylor, T Hill, D Atkinson “Changes in small towns in South Africa’s Karoo: Looking from the inside out”. Urban Forum, published online, 17 August 2011.



This article seeks to situate the experience of demographic and economic change in South African small towns within a broader context. Drawing on international literature detailing demographic, economic and racial changes within small towns, the paper relates these trends to the Karoo region in South Africa. The research findings reveal that small towns in the Karoo are experiencing selective demographic and economic growth, which particularly favours the larger small towns. There is clear racial differentiation in the growth which is taking place and, contrary to predictions made in the 1970s, small towns in South Africa are not all experiencing absolute decline.


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Economic Studies, Prof Doreen Atkinson