Six Charts Explain South Africa’s Inequality

From an IMF article:

“South Africa suffers among the highest levels of inequality in the world when measured by the commonly used Gini index. Inequality manifests itself through a skewed income distribution, unequal access to opportunities, and regional disparities. Low growth and rising unemployment have contributed to the persistence of inequality.

The South African government has used different tools to tackle the stubborn levels of inequality that have plagued the country, including through progressive fiscal redistribution.

Efforts to reduce inequality have focused on higher social spending, targeted government transfers, and affirmative action to diversify wealth ownership and promote entrepreneurship among the previously marginalized. These measures need to be complemented with reforms that promote private investment, jobs, and inclusive growth.

Here are six charts that tell the story of South Africa’s inequality:

Inequality has remained stubbornly high. South Africa started the 1990s with already elevated inequality as the policy of apartheid excluded a large swath of the population from economic opportunities. South Africa’s Gini—an index that measures inequality—has increased further in the early 2000s and has remained high ever since. Meanwhile, its peers have been able to make inroads in reducing inequality.


Income distribution remains highly skewed. The top 20 percent of the population holds over 68 percent of income (compared to a median of 47 percent for similar emerging markets). The bottom 40 percent of the population holds 7 percent of income (compared to 16 percent for other emerging markets). Similar trends can be observed across other measures, such as the income share of the top 1 percent.


Significant disparities remain across regions. Income per capita in Gauteng—the main economic province that comprises large cities like Johannesburg and Pretoria—is almost twice the levels as that found in the mostly rural provinces like Limpopo and Eastern Cape. Being close to the economic centers increases job and income prospects.”

Posted by at 11:42 AM

Labels: Inclusive Growth


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