Measurement of earnings: Comparing South African tax and survey data
Martin Wittenberg ()
No 212, SALDRU Working Papers from Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town
Comparing earnings in the tax assessment data to those in the QLFS, it appears that earnings of employees in the QLFS are underreported by perhaps 40%, with bigger gaps near the top of the distribution. Benefits and annual bonuses contribute substantially to the gap. In the case of self-employment incomes it is also the case that high earnings are missing or underreported in the QLFS, but the tax data seems to miss many mid- and low-income self-employed earners. These differences make sense when one considers the incentives for reporting accurately to SARS versus to Statistics South Africa. These errors mean that earnings inequality as measured by the Gini coefficient is probably underestimated in the surveys by three percentage points.
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