Living standards: An economic perspective on quality of life in South Africa

Type Journal Article - Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe
Title Living standards: An economic perspective on quality of life in South Africa
Volume 53
Issue 1
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2013
Living standards: An economic perspective on quality of life in South Africa
This research provides an economic perspective on living standards in South Africa against the
background of domestic and international initiatives to eradicate poverty and inequality. In general
living standards and quality of life are multidisciplinary topics in which numerous factors such
as medical care and advancements, housing, food resources, etc., also play an integral part.
This research makes the assumption that living standards are a prerequisite for quality of life.
The methodology is thus to analyse a number of economic indicators often used in the assessment
of living standards.

absolute poverty decreased as a percentage of the population between 1996 to 2010, relative
poverty decreased only marginally over the same period. Absolute poverty is measured as the
number of people living on less than US$2 per day, and this share of the population decreased
from 12,1% in 1996 to 5,0% in 2010. Relative poverty takes into account factors such as cost of
living as well as the size of the household. Relative poverty recorded a marginal decrease from
40,6 % of the population in 1996 to 39,9% in 2010, and was therefore not as pronounced as the
decrease in absolute poverty.

percentage of income earned by various cumulative percentages of the population. Income
distribution in South Africa has improved only marginally since 1993, as indicated by Gini-

implies that despite the government’s various poverty reduction measures, income distribution
still remains stubbornly skewed.

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per year, while 95,5% is paid by individuals earning less than R600 001 per year.
As for the division of state revenue, social development will receive an estimated R112bn.
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2012. Compared to this, the number of grants paid rose by 5,3% during the same period. More

over the period. These large short term discrepancies raise serious questions about the
sustainability of these items in the long term.
The South African population rose from 5,9 million people in 1911, to 40,5 million in 1996,
while StatsSA estimates that there were 50,6 million people during mid-2011. The population
growth rate indicates some deceleration from around 2,2% per annum during the 1990s to a

indicates a clear pyramid shape, with the age groups between 0-19 years forming the base of the
pyramid. Despite this, the South African population is showing signs of aging. In 2010 around
5,6% of the South African population was 65 years or older, placing the country in the “mature/

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