WP 05/100 - Have Labour Market Outcomes Affected Household Structure in South Africa? A Descriptive Analysis of Households

Farah Pirouz

Date of Publication: 
October 2005

This paper seeks to investigate how the demography of households relates to individual labour market outcomes. We comprehensively examine household size and structures in the October Household Surveys 1995, 1997, 1999 and the Labour Force Surveys September 2001 and 2002. Over the 1995-2002 period, the number of households has increased in the face of rising unemployment and the average household size has decreased significantly. A rising proportion of single households mostly drives this result. We further investigate how such changes in the patterns of household composition could be correlated to changes in labour force articipation rates, unemployment rates, and employment rates. We find that employment rates in smaller households are substantially higher und unemployment rates lower than in larger households with more than two adult members. The shares of workless households where no member is employed, and fully employed households, where all working age adult members earn income from work, tell about employment polarisation. In particular, the share of households with unemployed members has doubled to 27 per cent in 2002, and the share of workless households, in which no member is employed, has risen to a third of all South African households. The results highlight some of the wider welfare effects of job losses and other economic variables on households in South Africa.

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