Poverty is on the rise in South Africa

More than half of South Africans were poor in 2015, with the poverty headcount increasing to 55.5% from a low of 53.2% in 2011. The figures are calculated using the upper-bound poverty line (UBPL) of R992 per person per month (pp/pm) in 2015 prices. This translates into over 30.4 million South Africans living in poverty in 2015.

While these stats are alarming, they are still better that the country’s poverty situation a decade earlier. In 2006, it was estimated that two-thirds of the country’s population (66.6% or roughly 31.6 million people) were living below the UBPL line.

Here are some of the key considerations from the data:

The food poverty line has increased

Adjusted for inflation, the upper boundary poverty line in South Africa has moved from R575 per person per month in 2006 to R1,138 per person per month in 2017. The bare minimum needed to survive has increased from R219 in 2006 to R531 in 2017.

The youngest age group (0-17) has highest proportion of people living in poverty

In the figure above, we see that while poverty is the highest amongst children (aged 0–17), poverty levels tend to drop as one gets older and only starts to increase again from the age of 55 onwards.

The most affected people are black/female/youth/rural areas

In general, children (aged 17 years and younger), black Africans, females, people from rural areas, those living in the Eastern Cape and Limpopo, and those with little or no education are the main victims in the ongoing struggle against poverty.

Poor households vs ‘non-poor’ households

Stats SA provided a graphic comparing ‘poor’ to ‘non-poor’ households in the country. It highlighted income, expenditure, and access to basic services.

Educational level linked to poverty

An individual’s educational level is closely linked to poverty. Stats SA’s data showed that 79.2% of individuals with no formal education were poor, compared to 8.4% of individuals who had a post-matric qualification in 2015.

The poorest provinces

  • Eastern Cape (72.9%)
  • Limpopo (72.4%)
  • KwaZulu-Natal (68.1%)
  • Western Cape (37.1%)
  • Gauteng (33.3%)

Read the full report here.

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