SA remains unequal, but people are living longer

Jeff Radebe (Netwerk24)
Jeff Radebe (Netwerk24)

Cape Town - Poverty has declined since 1994, but South Africa remains highly unequal and inequality is still largely defined along racial lines.

Those were some of the key findings in the Development Indicators 2014 report, released on Sunday by Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe.

The planning, monitoring, and evaluation minister said that eradicating poverty and reducing inequality has been the central focus of government policy since 1994.

“The past decade has seen the rise of the black middle class,” he said. “There was a significant shift in the country’s living standards measure between 2001 and 2013.”

The percentage of households in low living standards (LSM 1 to 3) decreased from 40% to 11% over the period 2000 to 2013.

“Despite rising average income levels and the rise in the black middle class, levels of inequality have remained high, with the richest 10% of households capturing over half of the national income,” he said.

More taxpayers

The income tax register has been expanded from three million taxpayers in 1996 to almost 20 million in 2013, he explained.

National income, adjusted for inflation, is 50% larger than it was 10 years ago and spending per citizen grew by 80% in real terms, and real expenditure on social services doubled.

Overall total investment in fixed capital as a percentage of GDP increased over the last five-years, and reached 20.3% in 2014. “The National Development Plan (NDP) target is 30% of GDP by 2030,” said Radebe.

However, he said that since the global financial crisis began in 2008, increasing expenditure has been sustained by a large accumulation of debt. “Rising debt-service costs threaten the sustainability of social gains achieved over the past decade,” he said.

Living longer

The life expectancy of South Africans has improved steadily over the last decade, with an overall net gain of 8.5 years.

“The increase in life expectancy can be attributed to the constant improvement in implementation of comprehensive strategies to combat the quadruple burden of diseases inclusive of communicable disease – primarily HIV and AIDS and TB – and the reduction in infant and child mortality rates,” he said.

The country’s under-five mortality rate decreased from 85.2 per 1000 live births ion 2002 to 44.1 per 1000 live births in 2014, while infant mortality declined from 57.8 per 1000 live births in 2002 to 34.4 per 1000 in 2014.

Development Indicators 2014 report assists government and the public to track the effectiveness of government policies and interventions using aggregate data. It employ quantitative measures to track progress made in implementing policies against national targets based on data sourced from research institutions, government databases and official statistics.

The Development Indicators publication is one of our key sources for tracking progress towards achievement of the NDP Vision 2030, on annual basis.

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