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South African social security under apartheid and beyond


  • Servaas van der Berg


Under apartheid, the trappings of a welfare state for whites were created. Over time, social security was gradually extended to other groups, and recently social assistance benefits were equalised. This left South Africa with high social security levels for a middle-income developing country. However, the social security system still largely reflects the historical needs of vulnerable white groups under apartheid, among whom unemployment was minimal, given their preferential access to jobs and education. Thus the social security system now has inadequate provision for the most vulnerable, the unemployed. In contrast, four out of five pensioners receive a means-tested social pension — a major poverty-alleviating factor in rural black communities. This article analyses the social security system against the backdrop of apartheid and the more recent democratisation, and assesses its major deficiencies, the forces acting for its expansion and the binding fiscal constraint.

Suggested Citation

  • Servaas van der Berg, 1997. "South African social security under apartheid and beyond," Development Southern Africa, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(4), pages 481-503.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:deveza:v:14:y:1997:i:4:p:481-503 DOI: 10.1080/03768359708439982

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    Cited by:

    1. Aliber, Michael, 2003. "Chronic Poverty in South Africa: Incidence, Causes and Policies," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 473-490, March.
    2. Valerie Møller, 2007. "Satisfied and dissatisfied South Africans: results from the General Household Survey in international comparison," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 81(2), pages 389-415, April.
    3. Barrientos Armando & Villa Juan Miguel, 2015. "Evaluating Antipoverty Transfer Programmes in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Better Policies? Better Politics?," Journal of Globalization and Development, De Gruyter, vol. 6(1), pages 147-179, June.
    4. Abel, Martin, 2013. "Unintended labour supply effects of cash transfer programmes: Evidence from South Africa's old age pension," SALDRU Working Papers 114, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.
    5. Paula Armstrong & Bongisa Lekezwa & Krige Siebrits, 2008. "Poverty in South Africa: A profile based on recent household surveys," Working Papers 04/2008, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    6. Valerie Møller & Sarah Radloff, 2013. "Perceptions of Fortune and Misfortune in Older South African Households: Social Assistance and the ‘Good Life’," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 111(3), pages 633-664, May.
    7. Celeste Coetzee, 2003. "Hiring Patterns, Firm-Level Dynamics and HIV/AIDS: A Case Study of Small Firms on the Cape Flats," SALDRU/CSSR Working Papers 052, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.
    8. repec:asr:journl:v:7:y:2017:i:special:p:186-199 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Armando Barrientos & Sony Pellissery, 2012. "Delivering effective social assistance: does politics matter?," Brooks World Poverty Institute Working Paper Series esid-009-12, BWPI, The University of Manchester.
    10. Margaret Grosh & Carlo del Ninno & Emil Tesliuc & Azedine Ouerghi, 2008. "For Protection and Promotion : The Design and Implementation of Effective Safety Nets," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 6582.

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