The labour market and household income inequality in South Africa: existing evidence and new panel data
South Africa's very high Gini coefficient has always served as the starkest indicator of the country's extreme inequality. The racial legacy has always been highlighted in explaining this inequality. This paper presents evidence that between race contributions to inequality have declined from the early 1970s to the mid 1990s. However, they are still considerably higher than comparative international figures. The racially rigged labour market has always been assumed to operate as the key force underlying these changing inequality patterns and the paper presents findings for more formal decompositions of the linkage between the labour market and household inequality. This work confirms the dominance of the labour market in driving total South African, African and even KwaZulu-Natal inequality. However, the contribution of wage income is uneven across these different levels of aggregation and across time; suggesting complex patterns of inequality generation. The following lengthy section of the paper uses a panel data set to measure and explain the mobility patterns of a sample of African households in Kwazulu-Natal. It is found that there was less income mobility at the top and the bottom of the distribution than in the middle and overall there was an increase in income differentiation. Simple mobility profiling and more complex modelling confirm the importance of labour market changes in influencing movement of real adult equivalent income of households as well as mobility across deciles, across poverty lines. Demographic changes are also seen to be very important. The paper concludes with a summary and some suggestions for further work. Copyright © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Volume (Year): 13 (2001)
Issue (Month): 6 ()
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