Photography by:
  • Muhammad Gangat & Roxy Do Rego

Understanding poverty and inequality in the GCR

This project aims to provide an understanding of the nature and extent of inequality in the Gauteng City-Region (GCR), as well as unpack its underlying causes, drivers and dynamics. Government policies and programmes aimed at addressing poverty have failed to make significant inroads towards reducing poverty, while economic growth has been accompanied by increasing levels of inequality and persistent poverty. The project takes the view that unless and until inequality is addressed, reducing poverty will remain an intractable challenge. While there have been numerous studies on poverty, none of these has adequately tackled inequality with significant detail.

This project will use the 2011 Quality of Life Survey (QoL) results as the basis for understanding inequality, through an analysis of the poverty patterns revealed in the QoL. Further in depth studies will be undertaken through focus groups to further understand the nature, pattern and drivers of inequality in the GCR. The key questions to be answered by the project are:
  1. What is the nature and extent of inequality in the GCR?
  2. What are the underlying causes and drivers of inequality in the GCR?
  3. Why does inequality matter in light of efforts to reduce poverty in the GCR?
  4. What are the necessary and sufficient conditions for reducing inequality in the GCR?

This project has policy relevance in that it addresses two key challenges for government – reducing inequality and combating poverty. These challenges are legitimate objectives for government policy and the outcomes of this project are expected to assist government in its pursuit for achieving them. Addressing inequality and poverty is a key step towards achieving the ultimate government goals of social justice and social cohesion. Academically the project aims to contribute to the understanding of why inequalities persist and unpack the mechanism through which these inequalities make it difficult to effectively and sustainably address poverty. Using data from the GCR, the project also seeks to conceptualise the relationship between economic growth, inequality and poverty within the context of the GCR. The key question is: why, in the case of the GCR (and South Africa in general), is inequality increasing with economic growth when ideally the reverse should be true?


A research report with three individual papers, an introduction and a conclusion was finalised and is currently with the printers awaiting final sign off. The three papers in the report are:

  • Tseng, D. (forthcoming) ‘Poverty and Inequality in the GCR: Income and Expenditure Analysis’
  • Kwenda, P. & Benhura, M (forthcoming) ‘Poverty and Inequality in the GCR: Inequalities in the GCR Labour Market’.
  • Mushongera, D., Zikhali, P., & Ngwenya, P. (forthcoming) ‘A multidimensional poverty index for Gauteng: Evidence from GCRO Quality of Life Survey Data’.


Mushongera, D, Zikhali, P & Ngwenya, P (2015) ‘A Multidimensional Poverty Index for Gauteng (GMPI)’, GCRO Map of the Month. February.

Mushongera, D. Zikhali, P & Ngwenya, P. (2017). ‘A Multidimensional Poverty Index for Gauteng Province, South Africa: Evidence from Quality of Life Survey Data’. Social Indicators Research. 130(1). 277-303.

Mushongera, D. (Ed) (Forthcoming). Poverty and inequality in the Gauteng City-Region. GCRO Research Report (in press).

Last updated: 19 October 2017


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