Life chances and class: Estimating inequality of opportunity in South Africa for various life stages

Stellenbosch Working Paper Series No. WP08/2013

Author(s): Asmus Zoch

JEL Classification: D63, I24, J62

Keywords: Inequality of opportunity, Intergenerational mobility, South Africa, Middle class

Download: PDF (245 KB)


This paper aims to determine the degree to which class and socio-economic background influence a child’s life chances and their future perspectives. We build on the growing number of papers that deal with the concept of inequality of opportunity. Comparing children from poor and middle class households we find significant differences in terms of access to basic education, sanitation, clean water and mobility. Our multivariate analysis highlights the importance of class membership for schooling outcomes and labour market prospects of a child. The single most important variable to explain schooling outcomes are mother’s education. While income seems to be less important for younger ages it becomes increasingly important for the chances of reaching matric and obtaining tertiary education. The results are robust for various models and panel data.