IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Trading on a Grant: Integrating Formal and Informal Social Protection in Post-Apartheid Migrant Networks


  • Andries du Toit
  • David Neves


This paper describes the findings of case studies-based research on how poor and marginalised people in post-apartheid migrant networks seek to ameliorate poverty and manage their vulnerability. It argues that the ways in which people make decisions regarding formal social grants and cash transfers, their utilisation and their indirect impacts need to be understood in the context of the pre-existing and underlying systems and practices of informal social protection (Bracking and Sachikonye, 2006). These informal strategies are shaped by two key phenomena (du Toit and Neves, 2008): complex, spatially extended, de-centred social networks; and deeply sedimented and culturally specific practices of reciprocal exchange. This paper shows how social grants are used in this context, and illustrates how cash transfers allow poor and vulnerable people to make ‘investments’ in human, physical and productive capital. The paper argues that a crucial aspect of the impact of cash transfers lies in the way they allow the leveraging of scarce resources within networks of reciprocal exchange. Social grants thus have an impact far beyond the particular groups targeted in official plans, often providing key resources for those who would otherwise be marginalised. At the same time, they have only limited utility in addressing the core dynamics that drive chronic poverty. Reducing structural poverty in South Africa requires measures that address the underlying problems of structural unemployment.

Suggested Citation

  • Andries du Toit & David Neves, 2009. "Trading on a Grant: Integrating Formal and Informal Social Protection in Post-Apartheid Migrant Networks," Global Development Institute Working Paper Series 7509, GDI, The University of Manchester.
  • Handle: RePEc:bwp:bwppap:7509

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    More about this item

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bwp:bwppap:7509. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Rowena Harding). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.