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    United Nations Wider Conference

    INEQUALITY IN SOUTH AFRICAN POLICY DISCOURSE 

    by Joel Netshitenzhe

    Paper presented at 

    United Nations University - World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER)

    Development Conference, titled "Inequality – Measurement, Trends, Impacts And Policies"

    Helsinki, 5-6 September 2014


     

    INEQUALITY IN SOUTH AFRICAN POLICY DISCOURSE

    What are the major trends with regard to income inequality in South Africa? 

    First, income poverty has been declining since the advent of democracy. 

    Second, functional distribution of national income has worsened, and with it, income inequality. 

    Third, the change in the share of national income has not favoured the ‘middle class’, despite the fact that their proportion of the population has increased, with the per capita expenditure growth incidence curve evincing a U shape.

    Fourth, being employed does not, on its own, guarantee an escape from poverty and this has worsened anomie within the labour market and across society. 

    Fifth, the inequality measures show a declining trend between races, while it has shown a rising trend within races. 

    Sixth, inequality in South Africa’s labour market is aggravated by the skills shortages which do add a premium to salaries; while on the other hand, the oversupply of unskilled workers pushes wages down at the lower end. 

    INEQUALITY IN PUBLIC POLICY CONSCIOUSNESS 

    To what extent have insights on inequality impacted on South African policy-making and discourse? 

    South Africa has not been immune to global discourse on this issue: both in the context of the negative impact of the global economic crisis as well as the positive instances of progress made in Brazil during the second term of Lula’s presidency. But the matter is of great interest to South Africa because it is estimated to have the second highest Gini coefficient across the globe; and this manifests along the racial dynamics inherited from apartheid.

     Download full paper in PDF: Inequality J Netshitenzhe.pdfInequality J Netshitenzhe.pdf

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