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Understanding poverty and inequality in the GCR (2018)

Poverty and inequality are longstanding issues that have attracted the attention of both policy makers and academics across the world. In South Africa, alleviating poverty and reducing inequality are priority issues on the agenda of government in all three spheres. However, despite focused attention over the last two decades, policies and programmes by the post-apartheid government have failed to make significant inroads into addressing poverty and inequality in the country. Most notably, growth in the economy experienced especially in the decade from the late 1990s to the late 2000s was not accompanied by falling levels of poverty and inequality, bringing into question the distributional effects of economic growth policies.

This project moves from the assumption that practical policy solutions are unlikely to be successful unless grounded on a systematic and nuanced understanding of the nature, extent, patterns and drivers of poverty and inequality. With a focus on the Gauteng City-Region (GCR), this project analyses poverty and inequality from a number of perspectives. The view is that poverty and inequality are multidimensional in their causes and effects, and that local level analyses can unmask the heterogeneities often hidden in nationally oriented computations.

In order to understand poverty and inequality in the GCR, this project employs a number of approaches made possible by several datasets in the public domain, notably Stats SA's Income and Expenditure Survey (IES), Stats SA's Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) and the GCRO Quality of Life Survey (QoL). With these three datasets the project sought to analyse poverty and inequality in the GCR through:

  1. An income and expenditure approach;
  2. An examination of labour market inequalities; and
  3. The development and application of a multidimensional poverty index.

Results of these analyses are expected to contribute towards understanding poverty and inequality, their trends, drivers, and effects. Policy insights emanating these analyses may be relevant to local government in its pursuit of social justice and social cohesion objectives. From a theoretical point of view, the project aims to contribute to an understanding of the persistence of poverty and inequality in a context of economic growth. The multidimensional perspective on poverty and the spatial mapping of some of the results at a ward level are aimed at revealing the heterogeneities that exist in poverty across localised areas, thereby allowing for a more nuanced view and targeted policy interventions.


A research report with three individual papers and a synthetic introduction was finalised in mid-2018. The three papers in the report are:

  • Tseng, D. (2018). Poverty and inequality in the Gauteng City-Region: An income and expenditure analysis
  • Kwenda, P. & Benhura, M. (2018). Labour market inequalities in the Gauteng City-Region.
  • Mushongera, D., Zikhali, P., & Ngwenya, P. (2018) A Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) for Gauteng: Evidence from Quality of Life Survey data.


GCRO outputs

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

Mushongera, D. Tseng, D. Kwenda, P. Benhura, M. Zikhali, P. Ngwenya, P. (2018). Poverty and inequality in the Gauteng City-Region. GCRO Research Report #9. June 2018.

Mushongera, D and Katumba, S (2018). 'Multidimensional poverty in the GCR (2015/16 data)'. GCRO Map of the Month. June 2018

Academic outputs

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.

Last updated: 18 July 2018


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