WP 06/108 - Shifts in Non-Income Welfare in South Africa: 1993 - 2004

Haroon Bhorat, Carlene Van Der Westhuizen and Pranushka Naidoo

Date of Publication: 
May 2006

The aim of this study is to provide an analysis of the shifts in non-income welfare that have occurred over the period 1993 to 2004. This analysis serves as a complement to existing research which has focused on shifts in income poverty and inequality in the post-apartheid period. In addition, the study is one of only a few that provides a complete overview of the first decade of democracy by means of the comprehensive time period it covers. We use a technique called factor analysis to construct an asset index as an alternative, non-income based, measure of welfare. Variables reflecting household access to a range of services and assets are used in the construction of our asset index. An initial descriptive overview of the shifts in access to services and assets provides strong evidence that government asset and service delivery between 1993 and 2004 was pro-poor in nature. When standard measures of poverty are applied to our asset index values, statistically significant decreases in the headcount asset poverty rates between 1993 and 2004 across a range of covariates are found. A series of inequality measures are also applied to our asset index. The estimates show that across all covariates, asset inequality decreased between 1993 and 2004. Inequality decompositions indicate that within-group inequality has increased in importance in determining aggregate inequality.

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