Poverty in South Africa: A profile based on recent household surveys

Stellenbosch Working Paper Series No. WP04/2008

Author(s): Paula Armstrong, Bongisa Lekezwa, Krige Siebrits

JEL Classification: D31, I32

Keywords: Poverty, Poverty markers, Burden of poverty, Social grants, South Africa

Download:  PDF (225 KB)


This paper provides a non-technical, snapshot-like profile of poverty in South Africa based on two surveys recently conducted by Statistics South Africa: the Income and expenditure survey of households 2005/06 (IES2005) and the General household survey 2006 (GHS2006). It uses various “poverty markers” (including geographical location, population group, gender, household structure, the age of the head of the household, and employment status) to identify key characteristics of poverty groups, and also highlights other important dimensions of poverty (deficient access to infrastructure services, high transport cost burdens, limited education attainments, and exposure to hunger). The paper further emphasises that the expansion of social grants since 1999 has significantly reduced extreme poverty.