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Describing and decomposing post-apartheid income inequality in South Africa

Murray Leibbrandt, Arden Finn () and Ingrid Woolard ()

Development Southern Africa, 2012, vol. 29, issue 1, 19-34

Abstract: This paper describes the changes in inequality in South Africa over the post-apartheid period, using income data from 1993 and 2008. Having shown that the data are comparable over time, it then profiles aggregate changes in income inequality, showing that inequality has increased over the post-apartheid period because an increased share of income has gone to the top decile. Social grants have become much more important as sources of income in the lower deciles. However, income source decomposition shows that the labour market has been and remains the main driver of aggregate inequality. Inequality within each racial group has increased and both standard and new methodologies show that the contribution of between-race inequality has decreased. Both aggregate and within-group inequality are responding to rising unemployment and rising earnings inequality. Those who have neither access to social grants nor the education levels necessary to integrate successfully into a harsh labour market are especially vulnerable.

Date: 2012
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DOI: 10.1080/0376835X.2012.645639

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