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Revised estimates of personal sector wealth for South Africa


  • Janine Aron
  • John Muellbauer


In common with many emerging market countries, South Africa’s government does not publish balance sheet wealth estimates on a market value basis, as produced in the U.S., U.K., Japan, and elsewhere. Yet without information on the market values of liquid and illiquid personal sector wealth, it is difficult to explain aggregate consumer spending and saving, consumers’ demand for credit, and the broad money holdings of households. Behavioural equations for these variables are key components of central banks’ macro-econometric models, used in forecasting and policy-making. Understanding the domestic asset value channel of the monetary policy transmission mechanism is especially important for inflation targeting countries. We construct the first coherent set of aggregate, personal sector wealth estimates at market value for South Africa. Our quarterly estimates derive from published data on financial flows, and various other capital market data, often 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. Relating asset to income ratios for various asset classes to asset price movements and rates of return, throws light on the changing composition of personal sector wealth. Most striking are the rise in pension wealth - overtaking gross housing assets in the late 1980s; the rise in household debt; and the relative decline of liquid and housing assets, from the early and mid-1980s, respectively.

Suggested Citation

  • Janine Aron & John Muellbauer, 2004. "Revised estimates of personal sector wealth for South Africa," CSAE Working Paper Series 2004-24, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  • Handle: RePEc:csa:wpaper:2004-24

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Case, Anne & Deaton, Angus, 1998. "Large Cash Transfers to the Elderly in South Africa," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(450), pages 1330-1361, September.
    2. Jeremy I. Bulow, 1982. "What are Corporate Pension Liabilities?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 97(3), pages 435-452.
    3. Olli-Pekka Lehmussaari, 1990. "Deregulation and Consumption: Saving Dynamics in the Nordic Countries," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 37(1), pages 71-93, March.
    4. James M. Poterba, 2000. "Stock Market Wealth and Consumption," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(2), pages 99-118, Spring.
    5. Ryland Thomas, 1997. "The Demand for M4: A Sectoral Analysis. Part 1 - The Personal Sector," Bank of England working papers 61, Bank of England.
    6. 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, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. James B. Davies & Susanna Sandström & Anthony Shorrocks & Edward N. Wolff, 2011. "The Level and Distribution of Global Household Wealth," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 121(551), pages 223-254, March.

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    JEL classification:

    • O - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth
    • P - Economic Systems


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