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Poverty and Headship in Post-apartheid South Africa, 1997–2006


  • Michael Rogan



In this paper, I investigate the characteristics and poverty status of female- and male-headed households in South Africa using nationally representative household survey data from the October Household Surveys (1997 and 1999) and the General Household Surveys (2004 and 2006). This decade (1997–2006) represents a period for which there is an extensive poverty literature documenting (particularly in the 2000 s) an overall decrease in the poverty headcount rate. At the same time, however, there is evidence to suggest that female-headed households have a far higher risk of poverty and that the poverty differential between female- and male-headed households widened over the period. The aim of this paper is to identify some of the main reasons that female-headed households are more vulnerable to poverty in post-apartheid South Africa and why poverty has decreased by more in male-headed households (relative to female-headed households). The study examines the key features which distinguish female- and male-headed households and whether these have changed over time. In order to link these characteristics with the poverty differential between female- and male-headed households, I then examine whether (and by how much) controlling for the observable differences between female- and male-headed households reduces the significantly greater risk of poverty in female-headed households. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2013

Suggested Citation

  • Michael Rogan, 2013. "Poverty and Headship in Post-apartheid South Africa, 1997–2006," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 113(1), pages 491-511, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:soinre:v:113:y:2013:i:1:p:491-511
    DOI: 10.1007/s11205-012-0107-8

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Quisumbing, Agnes R. & Haddad, Lawrence & Pena, Christine, 2001. "Are women overrepresented among the poor? An analysis of poverty in 10 developing countries," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 225-269, October.
    2. Sara Horrell & Pramila Krishnan, 2007. "Poverty and productivity in female-headed households in Zimbabwe," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(8), pages 1351-1380.
    3. Dorrit Posel & Michael Rogan, 2012. "Gendered trends in poverty in the post-apartheid period, 1997--2006," Development Southern Africa, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 29(1), pages 97-113, March.
    4. Medeiros, Marcelo & Costa, Joana, 2008. "Is There a Feminization of Poverty in Latin America?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 115-127, January.
    5. Fuwa, Nobuhiko, 2000. "The Poverty and Heterogeneity Among Female-Headed Households Revisited: The Case of Panama," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 28(8), pages 1515-1542, August.
    6. Fuwa, Nobuhiko, 2000. "A Note on the Analysis of Female Headed Households in Developing Countries," MPRA Paper 23401, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Ardington, Cally & Lam, David & Leibbrandt, Murray & Welch, Matthew, 2006. "The sensitivity to key data imputations of recent estimates of income poverty and inequality in South Africa," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 23(5), pages 822-835, September.
    8. Servaas Van der berg & Megan Louw & Derek Yu, 2008. "Post-Transition Poverty Trends Based On An Alternative Data Source," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 76(1), pages 58-76, March.
    9. Haroon Bhorat & Carlene van der Westhuizen & Pranushka Naidoo, 2006. "Shifts in Non-Income Welfare in South Africa: 1993-2004," Working Papers 06108, University of Cape Town, Development Policy Research Unit.
    10. Elson, Diane, 1999. "Labor Markets as Gendered Institutions: Equality, Efficiency and Empowerment Issues," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 611-627, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Carlos Pestana Barros & Otavio Henrique dos Santos Figueiredo & Peter Fernades Wanke, 2016. "Peasants’ Poverty and Inequality in Angola," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 128(2), pages 751-761, September.
    2. Michael Rogan, 2016. "Gender and Multidimensional Poverty in South Africa: Applying the Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI)," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 126(3), pages 987-1006, April.
    3. Espinoza-Delgado, Jose & Klasen, Stephan, 2017. "Gender and Multidimensional Poverty in Nicaragua, An Individual-based Approach," MPRA Paper 81907, University Library of Munich, Germany.


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