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The Impact of Growth and Redistribution on Poverty and Inequality in South Africa


  • Kalie Pauw
  • Liberty Mncube

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


This country study evaluates the experience of the South African economy with respect to growth, poverty and inequality trends since the advent of democracy in 1994. The post-apartheid government took a definite turn toward greater spending on social security, while job creation and a narrowing of the gap between the so-called first and second economies – the latter defined as the informal part of the economy that is also largely removed from formal sector activities – enjoyed priority in its economic strategy. Despite this focus on uplifting the poor it remains unclear as to what extent government has been successful. Some controversy exists around whether relatively fewer South Africans are poor ten years after the democratic government came into power. There seems to be greater consensus among analysts that inequality has increased. This study attempts to shed some light on these issues, drawing on recent South African literature and data.

Suggested Citation

  • Kalie Pauw & Liberty Mncube, 2007. "The Impact of Growth and Redistribution on Poverty and Inequality in South Africa," Working Papers 07126, University of Cape Town, Development Policy Research Unit.
  • Handle: RePEc:ctw:wpaper:07126

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Lanjouw, Peter & Ravallion, Martin, 1995. "Poverty and Household Size," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 105(433), pages 1415-1434, November.
    2. Servaas van der Berg & Ronelle Burger & Rulof Burger & Megan Louw & Derek Yu, 2005. "Trends in poverty and inequality since the political transition," Working Papers 01/2005, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    3. 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.
    4. Kakwani, Nanak, 1993. "Poverty and Economic Growth with Application to Cote d'Ivoire," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 39(2), pages 121-139, June.
    5. Servaas Van Der Berg & Megan Louw, 2004. "Changing Patterns Of South African Income Distribution: Towards Time Series Estimates Of Distribution And Poverty," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 72(3), pages 546-572, September.
    6. Murray Leibbrandt & Laura Poswell & Pranushka & Matthew Welch & Ingrid Woolard, 2004. "Measuring recent changes in South African inequality and poverty using 1996 and 2001 census data," SALDRU/CSSR Working Papers 084, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.
    7. 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.
    8. Rulof Burger & Ingrid Woolard, 2005. "The State of the Labour Market in South Africa after the First Decade of Democracy," SALDRU/CSSR Working Papers 133, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.
    9. Pauw, Kalie, 2003. "Creating a 1995 OHS and a Combined OHS-IES Database in STATA," Technical Paper Series 15622, PROVIDE Project.
    10. Pauw, Kalie, 2005. "Creating a 2000 IES-LFS Database in Stata," Technical Paper Series 15628, PROVIDE Project.
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    Cited by:

    1. Tregenna, Fiona, 2011. "Halving Poverty in South Africa: Growth and Distributional Aspects," WIDER Working Paper Series 060, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    2. Derek Yu, 2013. "Poverty and inequality estimates of National Income Dynamics Study revisited," Working Papers 05/2013, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    3. repec:ilo:ilowps:467628 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Claire Vermaak, 2012. "Tracking poverty with coarse data: evidence from South Africa," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 10(2), pages 239-265, June.
    5. Grawitzky, Renee., 2011. "Collective bargaining in times of crisis : a case study of South Africa," ILO Working Papers 994676283402676, International Labour Organization.
    6. Freguin-Gresh, Sandrine & Anseeuw, Ward & D'Haese, Marijke F.C., 2012. "Demythifying Contract Farming: Evidence from Rural South Africa," 2012 Conference, August 18-24, 2012, Foz do Iguacu, Brazil 126567, International Association of Agricultural Economists.

    More about this item


    growth; poverty and inequality trends; South Africa;

    JEL classification:

    • A1 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics


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