3. South Africa: A tilted playing field
In 1904 in South Africa, the mining industry created a caste system for jobs. From then on, only Europeans could be blacksmiths, brickmakers, boilermakers -- basically any skilled job or profession. This "color bar," as South Africans called it, was extended to the entire economy in 1926 and lasted until the 1980s, robbing black South Africans of any opportunity to use their skills and talents. They were condemned to work as unskilled laborers in the mines and in agriculture -- and at very low wages, too, making it extremely profitable for the elite who owned the mines and farms. Unsurprisingly, South Africa under apartheid failed to improve the living standards of 80 percent of its population for almost a century. For 15 years before the collapse of apartheid, the South African economy contracted. Since 1994 and the advent of a democratic state, it has grown consistently.