WP19/2009

Poverty trends since the transition: What we know

Stellenbosch Working Paper Series No. WP19/2009

Author(s): Servaas van der Berg, Megan Louw, Leon du Toit

JEL Classification: D31, H22, H5

Keywords: Poverty, Inequality, Redistribution, Fiscal incidence, Social delivery, South Africa

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Abstract:

Using alternative data sources on income and poverty with a shorter time lag makes it possible to discern trends that can inform the policy debate. A strong decline in poverty rates was recorded since 2000. This has since been confirmed by General Household Survey data that showed that the proportion of households with children reporting that their children had gone hungry in the previous year had almost halved between 2002 and 2006. This policy success would not have been tracked using the less regular and more conventional data sources such as the Income and Expenditure Survey of 2000 (IES2000). One successful policy measure – the social grant system – can be clearly identified. Through the child support grants, much of the expansion of the grants system was targeted at children. In contrast, other areas of policy intervention, in particular social delivery in health and education, have been far less successful. This Working Paper is part of longer, ongoing research on poverty and social poverty in the Department of Economics at Stellenbosch University. It first appeared as a publication that attempted to make available some of these research results to a wider public in an accessible and non-technical format.