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Estimates of personal sector wealth for South Africa

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  • John Muellbauer
  • Janine Aron

Abstract

Without information on the market values of the main components of household wealth, it is difficult to understand the behaviour of aggregate consumer spending and of the broad money holdings of households. This paper constructs the first coherent set of aggregate personal sector wealth estimates at market value for South Africa. Our estimates derive from data published by the Reserve Bank on financial flows and various other capital market data, much of it at book value. Our methods rely, where relevant, on accumulating flow of funds data using appropriate benchmarks, and, where necessary, converting book to market values using appropriate asset price indices. The paper plots asset to income ratios for various asset classes, and by relating these to asset price movements and rates of return, throws some light on changes in the composition of personal sector wealth. The most striking changes have been the rise in pension wealth - overtaking housing wealth in the early 1990s, the rise in debt, and the relative decline of liquid assets and housing wealth since the early and mid-1980s, respectively. Areas of current ignorance are highlighted, particularly those concerning foreign assets, the unincorporated business sector and the nature of pension rights.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Oxford, Department of Economics in its series Economics Series Working Papers with number WPS/1999-17.

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Date of creation: 01 May 1999
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Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:wps/1999-17

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  1. James M. Poterba, 1987. "Tax Policy and Corporate Saving," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 18(2), pages 455-516.
  2. Bayoumi, Tamim, 1993. "Financial Deregulation and Household Saving," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 103(421), pages 1432-43, November.
  3. B.W. Smit & B.A. Mocke, 1991. "Capital Flight from South Africa: Magnitude and Causes," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 59(2), pages 60-77, 06.
  4. Bulow, Jeremy I, 1982. "What Are Corporate Pension Liabilities?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 97(3), pages 435-52, August.
  5. Berg, Lennart, 1994. "Household Savings and Debts: The Experience of the Nordic Countries," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 10(2), pages 42-53, Summer.
  6. Schmidt-Hebbel, K. & Serven, L., 1997. "Saving Across the World: Puzzles and Policies," World Bank - Discussion Papers 354, World Bank.
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Cited by:
  1. Janine Aron & John Muellbauer, 2000. "Personal and corporate saving in South Africa," CSAE Working Paper Series 2000-21, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  2. Janine Aron & John Muellbauer, 2000. "Financial Liberalization, Consumption and Debt in South Africa," Economics Series Working Papers WPS/2000-22, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  3. Aron, Janine & Muellbauer, John & Prinsloo, Johan, 2006. "Estimating the Balance Sheet of the Personal Sector in an Emerging Market Country: South Africa 1975-2003," Working Paper Series RP2006/99, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).

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