A Dynamic Analysis of Household Livelihoods and Asset Accumulation in Post-Apartheid South Africa: Evidence from KwaZulu-Natal

Type Conference Paper - CSAE Conference “Opportunities in Africa: Micro-evidence on firms and households”, St Catherine's College
Title A Dynamic Analysis of Household Livelihoods and Asset Accumulation in Post-Apartheid South Africa: Evidence from KwaZulu-Natal
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2000
City Oxford
URL http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=
Since the inception of the post-apartheid dispensation in the early 1990s, poverty alleviation has
come to represent an increasingly significant developmental concern in South Africa. This
mirrors the international poverty agenda that gained momentum with the publication of the World
Development Report 1990 and that has come to characterise the nineties. A concomitant response
has been a reconfiguration of the contours of poverty research in South Africa, one that reflects
this commitment to understanding the nature and causes of impoverishment and formulating
appropriate policy interventions.
A critical milestone in this new poverty research agenda occurred in late 1993 with the Project for
Statistics on Living Standards and Development (PSLSD) under the auspices of the South
African Labour and Development Research Unit (Saldru).1
This study was the first fully
representative household income and living standards survey in South Africa, incorporating
approximately 8800 households nation-wide (of which 4259 were rural African households), and
is generally considered the benchmark for comprehensive poverty-related data in the country.2
The results from the survey revealed, inter alia that:
• With a Gini coefficient of 0.58, South Africa has one of the highest levels of inequality in the
• Apartheid policies, by engendering a situation of inequitable access to employment, services
and resources to the African population, have resulted in poverty being characterised by a
strong racial dimension.
• Poverty is geographically concentrated, with the largest share of the poor (72%) residing in
rural areas, especially the former homelands.
• There is a marked tendency for poverty to be more prevalent among female-headed
households and among children. (Klasen, 1997; Donian and Humphries, 1998; May, 1998a).
Supporting evidence for this pernicious deprivation, inequality and insecurity experienced by
rural households has since emerged through the South African Participatory Poverty Assessment
(SA-PPA, 1997; May, 1996, 1998b) and the Speak Out On Poverty Hearings (1998), which were
phenomenological processes whereby the poor and marginalised voiced and analysed their own

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