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Current poverty and income distribution in the context of South African history

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  • Servaas van der Berg

    () (Department of Economics, University of Stellenbosch)

Abstract

This paper describes and analyses current poverty and income distribution in South Africa, with a central concern the relationship between poverty, inequality and growth. The paper also investigates patterns of and trends in poverty and income distribution, a literature with a long and distinguished history. Drawing from recent literature in this regard, the paper shows that the labour market – rather than access to wealth or to political and fiscal power – currently sets the limits to redistribution. Wage inequality, deeply rooted in South Africa’s history, plays a central role in overall income distribution, and patterns of human capital development are fundamental to the future growth path and therefore to poverty and income distribution. The paper therefore concludes that reducing inequality substantially is currently unlikely without a massive increase in the human capital of those presently poor, but that prospects in this regard are inauspicious.

Suggested Citation

  • Servaas van der Berg, 2010. "Current poverty and income distribution in the context of South African history," Working Papers 22/2010, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:sza:wpaper:wpapers121
    as

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    File URL: https://www.ekon.sun.ac.za/wpapers/2010/wp222010/wp-22-2010.pdf
    File Function: First version, 2010
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Murray Leibbrandt & Haroon Bhorat, 1999. "Modelling Vulnerability and Low Earnings in the South African Labour Market," Working Papers 99032, University of Cape Town, Development Policy Research Unit.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. South Africa will remain a hugely unequal society for a long time
      by Servaas van der Berg, Professor of Economics and South African Research Chair in the Economics of Social Policy at Stellenbosch University in The Conversation on 2014-05-07 09:59:33

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Miquel Pellicer & Vimal Ranchhod & Mare Sarr & Eva Wegner, 2011. "Inequality Traps in South Africa: An overview and research agenda," SALDRU Working Papers 57, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.
    2. Finn, Arden & Leibbrandt, Murray & Oosthuizen, Morne, 2014. "Poverty, inequality, and prices in post-apartheid South Africa," WIDER Working Paper Series 127, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    3. Benjamin Roberts, 2014. "Your Place or Mine? Beliefs About Inequality and Redress Preferences in South Africa," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 118(3), pages 1167-1190, September.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    South Africa; poverty; income distribution; labour market;

    JEL classification:

    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • N37 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Africa; Oceania

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