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Restructuring of Households in Rural South Africa: Reflections on Average Household Size in the Agincourt Sub-district 1992-2003

  • Martin Wittenberg


    (SALDRU, School of Economics, University of Cape Town)

  • Mark Collinson

South Africa has seen a dramatic decrease in household size over the last decade. In Table 1 we show that over the eight-and-a-half years from October 1995 to March 2004 the average household size has decreased by 20% or 0.74 persons (see also Pirouz 2004). Consequently for a fixed population size there would have been 20% more households in March 2004 than in October 1995. Such a rapid rate of household formation is interesting in and of itself. From the perspective of a policy maker it is particularly vital to understand this process. The new democratic government has committed itself to extending infrastructure and social services to households in deprived communities and now finds that it is trying to catch a moving target. The backlogs are increasing as the services are being rolled out. We will suggest below that there might be a connection between these two processes.

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Paper provided by Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town in its series SALDRU Working Papers with number 12.

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Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ldr:wpaper:12
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  1. Ted Bergstrom, 1994. "A Survey of Theories of the Family," Labor and Demography 9401001, EconWPA, revised 10 Oct 1994.
  2. Manser, Marilyn & Brown, Murray, 1980. "Marriage and Household Decision-Making: A Bargaining Analysis," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 21(1), pages 31-44, February.
  3. Rosenzweig, Mark R & Wolpin, Kenneth I, 1993. "Intergenerational Support and the Life-Cycle Incomes of Young Men and Their Parents: Human Capital Investments, Coresidence, and Intergenerational Financial Transfers," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(1), pages 84-112, January.
  4. Borsch-Supan, Axel, 1986. "Household formation, housing prices, and public policy impacts," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 145-164, July.
  5. Chiappori, Pierre-Andre, 1988. "Rational Household Labor Supply," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(1), pages 63-90, January.
  6. Lundberg, Shelly & Pollak, Robert A, 1994. "Noncooperative Bargaining Models of Marriage," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 132-37, May.
  7. Haurin, Donald R & Hendershott, Patric H & Kim, Dongwook, 1993. "The Impact of Real Rents and Wages on Household Formation," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 75(2), pages 284-93, May.
  8. McElroy, Marjorie B & Horney, Mary Jean, 1981. "Nash-Bargained Household Decisions: Toward a Generalization of the Theory of Demand," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 22(2), pages 333-49, June.
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