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Poverty and Well-being in Post-Apartheid South Africa: An Overview of Data, Outcomes and Policy


  • Haroon Bhorat
  • Ravi Kanbur

    () (Development Policy Research Unit, University of Cape Town)


This is an overview of poverty and well-being in the first decade of post-apartheid South Africa. It is an introduction to a volume that brings together some of the most prominent academic research done on this topic for the 10-year review process in South Africa. This overview highlights three key aspects of the picture that the detailed research paints. First, data quality and comparability has been a constant issue in arriving at a consensus among analysts on the outcomes for households and individuals in post-apartheid South Africa. Second, while the outcomes on unemployment, poverty and inequality are indeed bad, the outcomes on social indicators and access to public services are much more encouraging. Third, the prospects for rapid and sustained economic growth, without which poverty and well-being cannot be addressed in the long run, are themselves negatively affected by increasing inequality, poverty and unemployment.

Suggested Citation

  • Haroon Bhorat & Ravi Kanbur, 2005. "Poverty and Well-being in Post-Apartheid South Africa: An Overview of Data, Outcomes and Policy," Working Papers 05101, University of Cape Town, Development Policy Research Unit.
  • Handle: RePEc:ctw:wpaper:05101

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Lawrence Edwards & Alberto Behar, 2005. "Trade liberalisation and labour demand within South African manufacturing firms," Working Papers 06, Economic Research Southern Africa.
    2. Dollar, David & Kraay, Aart, 2002. "Growth Is Good for the Poor," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 7(3), pages 195-225, September.
    3. Haroon Bhorat, 2004. "Labour Market Challenges In The Post-Apartheid South Africa," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 72(5), pages 940-977, December.
    4. Jean-Yves Duclos & David E. Sahn & Stephen D. Younger, 2006. "Robust Multidimensional Poverty Comparisons," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(514), pages 943-968, October.
    5. Charles Meth, 2004. "Half Measures: The ANC's Unemployment and Poverty Reduction Goals," Working Papers 04089, University of Cape Town, Development Policy Research Unit.
    6. Murray Leibbrandt & James Levinsohn & Justin McCrary, 2005. "Incomes in South Africa since the fall of Apartheid," Working Papers 536, Research Seminar in International Economics, University of Michigan.
    7. Fields, Gary S. & Kanbur, Ravi, 2005. "Minimum Wages and Poverty," Working Papers 127086, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
    8. Johannes Fedderke & Raphael de Kadt & John Luiz, 2003. "Capstone or deadweight? Inefficiency, duplication and inequity in South Africa's tertiary education system, 1910--93," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 27(3), pages 377-400, May.
    9. L Edwards, 2001. "Globalisation And The Skills Bias Of Occupational Employment In South Africa," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 69(1), pages 40-71, March.
    10. Demombynes, Gabriel & Ozler, Berk, 2005. "Crime and local inequality in South Africa," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(2), pages 265-292, April.
    11. Neil Rankin, 2006. "The Regulatory Environment and SMMEs. Evidence from South African Firm Level Data," Working Papers 06113, University of Cape Town, Development Policy Research Unit.
    12. H. Bhorat & J. Hodge, 1999. "Decomposing Shifts in Labour Demand in South Africa," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 67(3), pages 155-168, September.
    13. Ravallion, Martin & Chen, Shaohua, 2003. "Measuring pro-poor growth," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 78(1), pages 93-99, January.
    14. Paul Cichello & Gary Fields & Murray Leibbrandt, 2003. "Earnings and Employment Dynamics for Africans in Post-apartheid South Africa: A Panel Study of KwaZulu-Natal," Working Papers 03077, University of Cape Town, Development Policy Research Unit.
    15. Morné Oosthuizen & Pranushka Naidoo, 2004. "Internal Migration to the Gauteng Province," Working Papers 04088, University of Cape Town, Development Policy Research Unit.
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    Cited by:

    1. Phillippe G. Leite & Terry McKinley & Rafael Guerreiro Osório, 2006. "The Post-Apartheid Evolution of Earnings Inequality in South Africa, 1995-2004," Working Papers 32, International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth.
    2. Posel, Dorrit & Rogan, Michael, 2014. "Measured as poor versus feeling poor: Comparing objective and subjective poverty rates in South Africa," WIDER Working Paper Series 133, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    3. Sheona Shackleton & Marty Luckert, 2015. "Changing Livelihoods and Landscapes in the Rural Eastern Cape, South Africa: Past Influences and Future Trajectories," Land, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 4(4), pages 1-30, November.

    More about this item


    South Africa: poverty; inequality; well-being;

    JEL classification:

    • A1 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics


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