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Poverty and headship in post-apartheid South Africa, 1997-2008


  • Michael Rogan


In this paper, I investigate the characteristics and poverty status of female- and male-headed households in South Africa using nationally representative household survey data from the October Household Surveys (1997 and 1999) and the General Household Surveys (2004 and 2008). These years (1997-2008) represent a period for which there is an extensive poverty literature documenting (particularly in the 2000s) an overall decrease in the poverty headcount rate. At the same time, however, there is evidence to suggest that female-headed households have a far higher risk of poverty and that the poverty differential between femaleand male-headed households widened over the period. The aim of this paper is to identify some of the main reasons that female-headed households are more vulnerable to poverty in post-apartheid South Africa and why poverty has decreased by more in male-headed households (relative to female-headed households). The study examines the key features which distinguish female- and male-headed households and whether these have changed over time. In order to link these characteristics with the poverty differential between female- and male-headed households, I then examine whether (and by how much) controlling for the observable differences between female- and male-headed households reduces the significantly greater risk of poverty in female-headed households.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael Rogan, 2012. "Poverty and headship in post-apartheid South Africa, 1997-2008," Working Papers 288, Economic Research Southern Africa.
  • Handle: RePEc:rza:wpaper:288

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    4. Ranjan Ray, 2000. "Poverty and expenditure pattern of households in Pakistan and South Africa: a comparative study," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(2), pages 241-256.
    5. Fuwa, Nobuhiko, 2000. "A Note on the Analysis of Female Headed Households in Developing Countries," MPRA Paper 23401, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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    7. Varley, Ann, 1996. "Women heading households: Some more equal than others?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 505-520, March.
    8. Medeiros, Marcelo & Costa, Joana, 2008. "Is There a Feminization of Poverty in Latin America?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 115-127, January.
    9. Fuwa, Nobuhiko, 2000. "The Poverty and Heterogeneity Among Female-Headed Households Revisited: The Case of Panama," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 28(8), pages 1515-1542, August.
    10. Dorrit Posel, 2001. "Who are the heads of household, what do they do, and is the concept of headship useful? An analysis of headship in South Africa," Development Southern Africa, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 18(5), pages 651-670.
    11. Ingrid Woolard & Murray Leibbrandt, 1999. "Household Incomes, Poverty and Inequality in a Multivariate Framework," Working Papers 99031, University of Cape Town, Development Policy Research Unit.
    12. Sara Horrell & Pramila Krishnan, 2007. "Poverty and productivity in female-headed households in Zimbabwe," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(8), pages 1351-1380.
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    Cited by:

    1. Haroon Bhorat & Carlene Van Der Westhuizen & Derek Yu, 2014. "The Silent Success: Delivery of Public Assets Since Democracy," Working Papers 201403, University of Cape Town, Development Policy Research Unit.
    2. Carlos Pestana Barros & Otavio Henrique dos Santos Figueiredo & Peter Fernades Wanke, 2016. "Peasants’ Poverty and Inequality in Angola," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 128(2), pages 751-761, September.
    3. Michael Rogan, 2016. "Gender and Multidimensional Poverty in South Africa: Applying the Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI)," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 126(3), pages 987-1006, April.
    4. Espinoza-Delgado, Jose & Klasen, Stephan, 2017. "Gender and Multidimensional Poverty in Nicaragua, An Individual-based Approach," MPRA Paper 81907, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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    Female-headed households; poverty; South Africa;

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