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Race, Poverty, and Deprivation in South Africa


  • Carlos Gradín


The aim of this paper is to explain why poverty and material deprivation in South Africa are significantly higher among those of African descent than among whites. To do so, we estimate the conditional levels of poverty and deprivation Africans would experience had they the same characteristics as whites. By comparing the actual and counterfactual distributions, we show that the racial gap in poverty and deprivation can be attributed to the cumulative disadvantaged characteristics of Africans, such as their current level of educational attainment, demographic structure, and area of residence, as well as to the inertia of past racial inequalities. Progress made in the educational and labor market outcomes of Africans after Apartheid explains the reduction in the racial poverty differential.

Suggested Citation

  • Carlos Gradín, 2011. "Race, Poverty, and Deprivation in South Africa," Working Papers 1107, Universidade de Vigo, Departamento de Economía Aplicada.
  • Handle: RePEc:vig:wpaper:1107

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Charles Meth, 2006. "What was the poverty headcount in 2004 and how does it compare to recent estimates by van der Berg et al?," SALDRU Working Papers 1, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.
    2. Lorenzo Cappellari & Stephen P. Jenkins, 2004. "Modelling low income transitions," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(5), pages 593-610.
    3. repec:adr:anecst:y:2011:i:101-102:p:02 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Servaas Van der berg & Megan Louw & Derek Yu, 2008. "Post-Transition Poverty Trends Based On An Alternative Data Source," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 76(1), pages 58-76, March.
    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. Chantreuil, F. & Trannoy, A., 1999. "Inequality Decomposition Values: the Trade-Off Between Marginality and Consistency," Papers 99-24, Paris X - Nanterre, U.F.R. de Sc. Ec. Gest. Maths Infor..
    7. Murray Leibbrandt & Ingrid Woolard & Arden Finn & Jonathan Argent, 2010. "Trends in South African Income Distribution and Poverty since the Fall of Apartheid," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 101, OECD Publishing.
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    Cited by:

    1. Elbra, Ainsley D., 2013. "The forgotten resource curse: South Africa's poor experience with mineral extraction," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(4), pages 549-557.
    2. Ronelle Burger & Marisa Coetzee & Carina van der Watt, 2013. "Estimating the benefits of linking ties in a deeply divided society: considering the relationship between domestic workers and their employers in South Africa," Working Papers 18/2013, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.

    More about this item


    poverty; deprivation; race; decomposition; South Africa; households’ characteristics.;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing
    • J82 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Standards - - - Labor Force Composition
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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