Photography by:
  • Alet Pretorius and Darya Maslova

Poverty & Inequality in the GCR: A Systematic Review of Literature Since 1980

The GCRO continues its legacy of understanding poverty and inequality in the Gauteng City-Region (GCR). The first major research report on this topic was published in 2018. This report comprised three chapters that focused on poverty and inequality from various perspectives i.e. income and expenditure, labour market inequalities, and multidimensional poverty. This report was circulated widely and presented at various fora in the province. As a follow-up to this work, the team embarked on another project in which poverty and inequality were looked at from a capability perspective. This effort led to the publication of a GCRO occasional paper in 2020.

The experience of working on these two pieces of work revealed that there is a large body of literature on poverty and inequality that has emerged during the last 20 years. The majority of these studies were largely national in scope. A wide range of methods and data were employed and a diverse set of findings and policy recommendations also emerged. However, no single nor coherent argument can be drawn with confidence regarding the state of poverty in the country, let alone Gauteng. The existence of this knowledge gap is the main motivation for the current project. The project seeks to undertake a systematic review of the literature over this period and paint a clear picture of poverty and inequality through an analysis of approaches, trends, and findings.

The persistence of poverty seems to suggest some underlying and unexplored causes. While there might be value in further empirical work on poverty, this project proposes rather take stock of currently available research on poverty in the GCR, analyse, the approaches used, the data, and the results obtained. By exposing the research gaps, the project aims to direct the attention of policymakers and researchers alike to those subtle aspects that could be driving poverty in the GCR and ultimately inform the formulation of better and more effective poverty reduction strategies.

GCRO lead researcher, Dr. Darlington Mushongera has partnered with Prof. Fana Sihlongonyane from the School of Planning at Wits University to write a journal article that will unpack how the theoretical thinking around poverty in South Africa has evolved over the past 4 decades.


Mushongera, D. and M. Sihlongonyane: (in preparation). Poverty and inequality in South Africa since 1980 - changing perspectives.

Last updated: 01 March 2024


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