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Women, income and poverty: Gendered access to resources in PostApartheid South Africa

Dorrit Poselab; Michael Roganb
National Research Foundation (NRF), b School of Development Studies at the University of KwaZuluNatal, Durban
Online publication date: 03 May 2011

To cite this Article Posel, Dorrit and Rogan, Michael(2009) 'Women, income and poverty: Gendered access to resources in

Post-Apartheid South Africa', Agenda, 23: 81, 25 — 34
To link to this Article: DOI: 10.1080/10130950.2009.9676251

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On one hand. 2002.c/e. depending on the employment status of household members keywords ~ ~ gender. Casale and Posel. 2005). South Africa Introduction In this Article. and the expansion of a relatively comprehensive social security system which includes a social pension as well as several grants to support the caregivers of children. 2005). but also among maleheaded households. we show that there are significant differences in poverty risks not only among femaleheaded households. this period has seen a number of changes that might be expected to affect women's well-being Women. we use nationally representative household survey data to examine whether trends in the extent of income poverty over a recent ten-year period have been gendered We find that females are more likely than males to live in poor households Poverty rates have fallen from 1997 to 2006. __ --- . poverty. that the extent of poverty has fallen by more among households headed by men However. and particularly following the expansion of the social grant system However.the introduction of equal opportunity legislation and protective labour legislation (including the extension of minimum wages to domestic workers) (Casale and Posel. income and poverty: Gendered access to resources in Post-Apartheid South Africa 25 . as well as changes in household structure. The post-apartheid period has been characterised by complex changes in all sectors of society and many of these changes are likely to have affected gendered access to resources. the past decade has seen employment growth for women (Casale and Posel.__ - - Far-reaching changes in the post-apartheid period in South Africa are likely to have affected gendered access to resources In thisArt.- - - - - . On the other hand. income and poverty: Gendered access to resources in Post-Apartheid South Africa Downloaded By: [University of Cape Town Libraries] At: 07:32 6 June 2011 Dorrit Posel and Michael Rogan abstract __ ___ - - _.Women. we investigate whether trends in the extent of income poverty in South Africa over the past decade have been gendered. the decline in poverty rates has been larger among males than among females Higher levels of unemployment and lower earnings among women. help explain why the gender gap in poverty rates has widened over the period We find also that femaleheaded households are far more vulnerable to income poverty than maleheaded households and further. femaleheaded households.

Casale. are identified as being poor if they live in households where average per capita (or per adult equivalent) income is below an individual (or adult) poverty line. most studies which have investigated how the incidence of poverty has changed since the end of apartheid. However. There is considerable empirical evidence which shows that on average. overall. Although female.and maleheaded households. These changes include the gendered impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic (Bentley. poverty rates started to decline. typically have found that.' These surveys collect detailed information on individuals and the households in which they live. An analysis of the gendered nature of poverty. the emphasis in describing poverty trends over the past decade has been on changes by "population group" or race. however. For example. 2004). in many of the surveys. Measuringindividual access to resources by gender (or across household members more generally) is complicated by a lack of information on intrahousehold resource allocations. therefore. 26 AGENDA 81 2009 Given the legacy of apartheid. However.and male-headed . 1997 and Lampietti and Stalker. there is considerable empirical evidence which shows that on average. individual poverty may be incorrectly measured. 2006. the possible under-reporting of income) in the available data sources (Seekings. Hoogeveen and Ozler. 2004). although the extent of this decline remains debated (Meth. female-headed households are more vulnerable to poverty than households headed by men These data constraints notwithstanding. Much of the poverty literature in South Africa therefore has focused on which data sets are used to measure individual or household well-being.and male-headed households are not homogenous types of households. for a broad review of studies from developing countries).Downloaded By: [University of Cape Town Libraries] At: 07:32 6 June 2011 adversely. 2006. Conventional poverty measures estimate individual well-being in the household by assuming that all resources in the household are equally (or equivalently) shared. and coinciding with a sizeable increase in government expenditure on social grants. and women increasingly overrepresented in the informal economy and in jobs with very low earnings (Casale. 2004. declining marital rates (Casale and Posel. both internationally and in South Africa. 2002). If female-headed households are found to rely primarily on income earned or received by women. 20071. gender differences in poverty have been explored further through a comparison of the economic well-being of female. van der Berg era/. 2005. nationallyrepresentativehousehold surveys have been conducted regularly by the official statistical agency in South Africa (Statistics South Africa). this will not be detected in estimates of poverty incidence. female-headed households are more vulnerable to poverty than households headed by men (see Buvinic and Gupta. income poverty increased slightly or remained constant between 1995 and 2000 (Leibbrandt and Woolard. Bhorat and Kanbur. 2005. 2007. 2007). and on the adjustments that are made to account for the inherent limitations (and in particular. Bhorat and van der Westhuizen. Schatz and Ogunmefun. rising rates of female unemployment (Casale and Posel. Seekings. 2001. 2002. Since 1994. and there has been relatively little consideration of whether poverty trends have been gendered. 2000. In many studies. 2008). Leibbrandt et a/. During the 2000s. 2008). 2008. van der Berg et al. cannot rely only on describingdifferences in poverty rates among female. then a comparison of economic status by the gender of the household head can highlight the nature and extent of gender differences in access to resources. if unequal access to resources in non-poor households pushes women below the poverty line. when resources are not equatly shared. Women and men. comprehensive information has not been collected on all sources of income earned or received by individuals in households.

By 2006. Although the number of poor people increased over the period to about 26.6 million to 12 million.6 56. 2007).5 59. We analyse the income and expenditure data provided in two sets of nationally representative household surveys. or 24. a doubling of disabitity grant Women. we also consider differences among both female and male-headed households. because women m maleheaded households are not the household heads. 2003). we investigate whether m a l e s are more likely than males to live in poor households and whether this has changed over tbne. we augment the measure of household income using information collected on household expenditure3in each of the surveys in order to provide a more comprehensive measure of economic resources in the household.5% of the population. representing a 115% increase) (National Treasuw. In light of the heterogeneity among female.6 61.5 million. In this Arficfe. Over this period. our data suggest that approximately 59.4 billion to 41. we explore gendered income poverty trends in South Africa using two approaches. First. we first estimate poverty at the level of the individual.and male-headed households. Individuals are identified as being poor if they c) live in households where average per capita monthly household income is below the poverty line of 322 Rand measured in 2000 prices (or approximately 515 Rand in 2008 prices)? In 1997. particularly over the 2000s.8 billion Rand in 2000 prices.9 million to 2. which have been relatively under-utilised in poverty studies thus far: the 1997 and 1999 October Household Surveys and the 2004 and 2006 General Household Surveys. Between 2001 and 2006. income and poverty: Gendered access to resources in Post-Apartheid South Africa 27 . lived in poor households in South Africa (see Table 1). female heads in some settings have indicated that they feel less vulnerable even with lower income due to the greater control over resources that they enjoy (Chant. Some of the notable changes in individual grant allocation between 2001 and 2006 include: an increase in the number of government pension recipients from 1. In fact. has been the expansion of the social grant system.5 percentage points to 56%.0 Source: Own calculations from the 1997and 1999 October Household Surveys and the 2 w 4 and 2006 General Household surveys A key factor accounting for the decrease in poverty rates.2 billion to 16 billion Rand in real terms).2 million (representing a rise in annual expenditure from 12. Poverty in South Africa 9) To compare poverty rates by gender. To address these limitations. even if female-headed households mtypically poorer. government spending on social grants increased from 20. although there may be some under-reporting of grant receipt. their access to income may be further constrained. Furthermore. These surveys have the advantage that they consistently collect information on the individual receipt of both earned income and social grant income.9 billion Rand per annum (or from 19.7 million individuals.Downloaded By: [University of Cape Town Libraries] At: 07:32 6 June 2011 households. Estimates of social grant spending derived from these household surveys are reasonably in line with administrative records. the total number of grants issued grew from approximately3. rtreny more poor women may live in households headedby men.7 Poverty rate 1% poor) 27. this increase was less than the increase in the total population.6 26.5 63. Because male-headed householdsare mom common than female-headed households. the surveys do not capture information on other sources of income such as private pensions and remittance transfers. Second.5 billion Rand to 56.2 Moreover. and the share of the population which was poor therefore fell.6 28. 1997 1999 2004 204g Number of poor (millions) 24. poverty rates had decreased by 3. we examine how the economic well-being of households has changed according tothe gender of the householdhead.

6 billion Rand in real terms). On average. and a dramatic expansion in the number of child support grants paid out from 1. African females face the highest risk of poverty.7 74. Rather.111) Q Downloaded By: [University of Cape Town Libraries] At: 07:32 6 June 2011 2007).3%. females are significantly more likely than males to live in households where average per capita income is below the poverty line. then poverty rates over the period would have been far higher. however.this had fallen.1 61.6 percentage point drop.6 75. this had risen to more than two fifths of households.6 606 Female 72. Table 2: Poverty rates by gender in South Africa 1997 1- 2004 2006 All South Africans Male 57. The risk of living in a poor household in South Africa is not distributed equally by gender.7 69. average earnings for women were about 69% of average earnings for men.9 million (an increase in annual expenditure from 1.8% to 59.1 million to 7.3 59. gender differences in the risk of living in poverty widened particularly among Africans over the decade.In 1997. poverty rates among males decreased considerably over the period (from 57. From 1997 to 2006.7percentage point decrease among African males). and the fall in the poverty rates from 1997 to 2006 would have been considerably smaller.8 65.0 Source: Own calculations from the 1997 and 7999 OHSs and the 2004 and 2 w 6 GHSs Among all South Africans. The increased coverage of these grants is reflected in the proportion of households receiving social grantsupport. beneficiaries from 700 000 to 1. for example.Inthe 1997October Household Survey (OHS).3 70 1 67. In the 2006 General Household Survey (GHS). .4billion Rand in real terms) (National Treasury. If households had relied only on income from employment.39/0of individuals lived in households where average earnings were insufficient to lift household members above the poverty line.3 billion to 12. women who are employed earn significantly less than men who are employed (Table 3).6 Africans Male 67. By 2006. but only by one percentage point to 64.6% of African females lived in poor households and by 2006 the proportion only fell to 69Y0 (a 3.4 billion to 11. an alarming 72. Figure 1 shows that in 1997.39/0). Including social grant income into a measure of total income. Consequently.65. approximately one quarter of all households reported receiving at least one social grant. Gender differences in income .4 million (an Gender and poverty increase in annual expenditure from 4.1 Source: Own calculations from the 7997 and 7999 OHSs and the 2004 and 2006 GHSs 28 AGENDA 81 2009 Gender differences in poverty rates are explained partly by gender differences in earnings. compared to a 6. In 1997.6%.4 64.3 Female 61. we estimate that almost 62% of females were poor compared to just over 579/0 of males (Table 2). In 1997.8 58.146 to 52.Q. significantly lowers poverty rates and results in a decline in the extent of poverty over the 2000s. this gender gap in average . Furthermore. while the extent of poverty among females only fell from 61. I 0 .7 52.

340 Rand for men.61.066 825 921 821 Median male earnings 1.071 3.by2006 it had dropped to 0. because women bear the overwhelming responsibility for childcare.251 2.57 0. Females in South Africa are more likely than males to live in households which depend on women's earnings or which have no access 1997 1999 2004 2006 Average female earnings 2.58 0. In the 2006 GHS. the gender gap in median earnings widened over the period. In 1997. Given gender differences in access to employment and earnings. this had < i n to 57% (although women accounted for only 40% of all the employed in that year). Women not only earn less than men.279 4. By 2006.65 0.343 0. Consequently. female unemployment rates were consistently and significantly higher than male unemployment rates (Table 4). In 2006.69 0. but they are also far less likely than men to find employment. income and poverty Gendered access to resources in Post-Apartheid South Africa 29 P 3. women are also increasingly over-mpresented among low-wage workers. for example.56 0. Perhaps not surprisingly then.Downloaded By: [University of Cape Town Libraries] At: 07:32 6 June 2011 earnings narrowed. women are more likely than men to be social grant recipients.580 1.222 2.75 Median female earnings 1. so that by 2006.173 3.61 Female/mle average earnings Femalehale median earnings Source Own wlculatrons from the 1997 and 1999 OHSs and the 2004 and 2006 GHSs Women. by 2006..475 1. Although total social grant payments have increased considerably over the decade. c) (P .405 Average male earnings 3. compared to about 32% of men. Because earnings are very unequally distributed in South Africa. a much larger proportion of women than men is not participating in the labour market (as part of the employed or the unemployed).thefemale-male ratio of medianearnings was 0. indicatingthat the median earnings of employed women were only 61% of the median earnings of employed men. Furthermore.649 1. almost 50% ofall women who reported that they wanted to work did not have employment. whereas median real earnings in that year were about 820 Rand for women and 1.65. average earnings are considerably higher than median earnings (or earnings received by individuals at the 50th percentile of the earnings distribution). and in the reliance on social grant income. women have significantly lower levels of income than men in South Africa. Over the decade. individuals face a greater likelihood of poverty if they live in households which depend on the income received by women. the maximum value of the child support grant was 142 Rand (in 2000 prices).Although women's employment has grown over the last decade.187 0. almost 15% of all women aged 15 years and older were reportedas receiving a social grant compared to less than 10% of men. However.72 0. In 1997. the value of social grant income is considerably lower than the value of earnings. women's average earnings were about 75% of men's average earnings.53% of all those earning less than 600 Rand a month in 2000 prices (or approximately 1 140 Rand in 2008 prices) were women.398 2.

and the non-searching unemployed. and where there are only employed women only 224b.9 35. where thsrs me: Source: Own calculations from the 1997 and 1999 OHSs and the 2004 and 2006 GHSs 30 AGENDA81 2009 .4 13.4 100.Table 4 Broad unemployment rates among adults (15+) in South Africa 1997 1999 2M4 Part of the rise in the proportion of females living in households with no employed men might 2006 be explained by the decline in marital rates among YO men unemployed 29.8 19.8 22. compared to only 37% over the period.3 37. 1997 .0 100.7 Both employed men &women 22.5 23.9 32 4 35. Table 5: Employed household members by gender in South Africa.5 among other women.5 Only employed women 12. Furthermore. but in 2006.7 31 9 African women.0 100.8 100. By 2006.2 Only employed women 18. The decline in marital rates over the period Downloaded By: [University of Cape Town Libraries] At: 07:32 6 June 2011 is particularly pronounced among female heads to earned income. rather than by an increase in divorce or widowhood: the proportion of female heads 57% of females lived in households in which there who had never married rose from roughly 27% to were no male income-earners.4 19.2 22. The fall in marital rates among female household heads were married or cohabiting or where no resident household member has heads has been driven by an increase in the employment (Table 5).3 50. Furthermore.4 21.0 100. In 1997.0 -P of m r k IMng in household. whereas an increasing proportion of non-African women were Source. this dropped to men.1 20.1 14.6 33. almost 60% of all females were living in households in which there were no employed men. 46% of males. Marital rates among African women are significantly lower than marital rates YO women unemployed 45. marital rates among African Note: The braad unemployment rare includes both the searching women fell from about 36% to 34% (Figure 2). Own calculations from the 7997and 1999 OHSs and rhe reported as married or cohabiting with partners 2004 and 2006 GHSs from 1997 to 2006.3 37. while the proportion who were divorced or widowed remained constant at about 42%. over the decade.5 20.4 Only employed men 31.0 No employed members 33. about 32% of all female households where there are no resident employed with a male partner.0 100.5 31.3 Only employed men 22.4 22. This is because a far larger percentage of females than males live in of household.9 49.4 31.0 100.2006 Pem~ntegeof femalrr living in households where them are: 1997 1999 2001 Mo6 No employed members 37.0 100.9 20. about married. females have become more reliant on proportion of female heads who have never the income received by women.7 31.8 20. In 1997.5 14.9 32.7 19.8 47.9 33.7 Both employed men & women 20.

2 32.6 50.0 Sotme Own wlculations from the 1997 and 1999 OHSs and the 2004 and 2006 GHSs Women.7 67. income and poverty: Gendered access to resources in Post-Apartheid South Africa 31 . from 35.7 37. This increase has been slightly larger than the rise in the number of households overall and consequently the proportion of all households which are female- 2004 2006 1997 1999 Maleheaded 5 981 957 6 647 800 7 664 456 8 073 892 Female-headed 3 244 538 3 735 295 4520349 4858648 35.9 48.8 41. Female-headed households are far more likely to be poor (have an average per capita income in the household that is below the poverty line) than male-headed households: between 1997 and 2006.' 0 I 1997 1999 2064 2006 Poverty rates among female and male-headed households As in other countries.9 62. From 1997 t o 2006 there has been a steady increase in the number of households headed by women (Table 6).5% of all households.9 37.1 37.2 66.5 Femaleheaded 66.2% to 37. rise in South Africa.5 Percentage female-headed (Iwn calculetions from the 35.2 1 B 7 and 1999 OH& and the 2004 and 2006 GHSs 1997 1999 2004 2006 All households5 48.F w e 2: Marriage and cohabitation among South Africa women (15 years and older) 70 Downloaded By: [University of Cape Town Libraries] At: 07:32 6 June 2011 1" s 5 10 .2 43. poverty rates were consistently and significantly higher in households headed by women than in male-headed households (Table 7).6 Maleheaded 38. female headship is on the headed grew modestly over the period.

Furthermore. are equally vulnerable to poverty and there are important differences in poverty rates among female-headed households. Figure 3 illustrates that both female. female-headed households are consistently more likely to be poor than male-headed households. 2006 1 etllployed More than 1 No employed household member hous&old manber employed howhold member 32 AGENDA 81 2009 . Across the four surveys used in this study. Moreover. as well as among male-headed households. The extent of poverty decreased from 38. compared to about 28% of male-headed households. however. Less than 12% of femaleheaded households reported more than one employed household member. between 76% and 83Y0 of all household heads earned or received the highest level of income reported in the household. Not all female-headed households.8% to 32. Nonetheless. I 0 *e Downloaded By: [University of Cape Town Libraries] At: 07:32 6 June 2011 (0 Moreover. almost 5096 of all female-headed households reported no household member with employment compared to 24% of maleheaded households. A key reason why femaleheaded households face a higher risk of poverty is because these households are far more likely than male-headed households to rely on the income of women.7% to 62Y0 among female-headed households (a relative fall of 7%). a far larger proportionof femaleheaded households contain no employed members.for example. individuals who are reported as heads of household are also the main income providers in the household. Distinguishingamong households according to the gender of the head therefore provides one means of exploring the implications of gender differences in access to income.and male-headed honsehoh m South Africa. In the majority of households in South Africa. F’igure 3: Poverty rates among female.and male-headed households face particularly high risks of poverty when these households contain no resident members with employment.59/0among male-headed households (a relative fall of 16%) but only from 66.Q. controlling for the employment status of household members.and female-headed households. In 2006. the changes in poverty rates over the period measured by the gender of the household head have resulted in a widening of the poverty gap between male. poverty rates fall significantly in both types of households as the number of employed household members rises.

5billion Rand. and a growing reliance on women's income has meant that poverty rates have fallen more slowly among females than among males.8 billion Rand on grants in the 2004/5 fiscal year. According to the National Treasury (2007).the Department of Social Development spent approximately 44. employment and earnings. Similarly. 70. but not by a large amount. the findings presented in this Article highlight the implications of persistent gender inequality in the labour market and a growing reliance on women's earnings. income and poverty: Gendered access to resources in Post-ApartheidSouth Africa 33 9) z5 *I . relatively lower access to employment for women. the small size of the grants.Development Policy Research Unit.100:247-261. In order to adjust for inflation. To explore these gender differences in poverty further. there IS a weaker correspondence in the composition of the grants.9billion Rand for the 2006j7 fiscal year. poverty and inequality in South Africa: The first decade of democracy'. 04/84. in Review of African Political Economy. Although there is considerable variation among these household types. Women. in 2006. Casale D & Pose1 D (2002)'The continued feminisation of the labour force in South Africa: An analysis of recent data and trends'. DPRU Working Paper OV101. we compared the level of poverty in female. over the period. Gauteng. households headed by women are far more likely to be poor than households headed by men.9billion Rand for the 2005/6fiscal year and 56. Development Policy Research Unit. 45. The first nationally representative household survey in South Africa was conducted in 1993 by the South African Labour and Development Research Unit. 1 : 156-184. Cape Town. the increasing gender gap in median wages. Footnotes 1. household survey data do underestimate social grant income. Consequently. Furthermore. the decline in the extent of income poverty has been greater for males. poverty measured at the household level is considerably lower than poverty measured at the individual level. in The South African Journal of Economics. Thus. Casale D (20041 'What has the feminisation of the labour force 'bought' women in South Africa? Trends in labour force participation. although poverty rates have fallen for both females and males over the ten-year period from 1997 to 2006. This is because these households are more reliant on income received by women.The Regulatory Environment and its Impact on the Nature and Level of Economic Growth and Development in South Africa. While income poverty is only one measure of well-being. Development Policy Research Unit Conference 2008 . we use real income expressed in 2000 prices. 2 . while administrative records document spending at approximately 51. Income poverty therefore remains a gendered phenomenon in post-apartheidSouth Africa. household survey data suggest that social grant spending was about 51.2: 254280. Females and those residing in femaleheaded households have seen their contribution to overall income poverty increase over the period. University of Cape Town. poverty rates have fallen by . The poverty line of R322 in 2000 prices is a common poverty threshold used in a number of South African poverty studies. We use household expenditure to approximate household resources in households which report zero earned income and zero social grant income. However. 31.less among female-headed households than among maleheaded households.University of Cape Town.and male-headed households. the value of total social grant expenditure derived from the 2004 General Household Survey is estimated at approximately 43 billion Rand.No. Furthermore. While a larger proportion of women have received social grant support over the period. gender differences in poverty rates have widened over the period. We adjust nominal income in each of the four survey years using Statistics South Africa's Consumer Price Indices. outcomes and policy'. Bhorat H & Kanbur R (2005) 'Poverty and w e i h i n g in postapartheid South Africa: An overview of data. DPRU Working Paper Series. For example. 19952001'. c) (D . Bhorat H & van der Westhuizen C (2008)'Economic growth.Downloaded By: [University of Cape Town Libraries] At: 07:32 6 June 2011 Concluding comments The money-metric poverty analysis presented in this paper has demonstrated that females in South Africa are more at risk of poverty than males. Buvinic M & Gupta GR (1997)'Femaleheaded households and female-maintained families: Are they worth targetting to reduce poverty in developing countries?' in Economic Development and Cultural Change. Because poorer individuals live in larger households in South Africa. References Bentley K (2004) 'Women's human rights and the feminisation of poverty in South Africa'.

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