A total of 44.3% of households in South Africa are receiving at least one social grant, up from 30.8% in 2003, according to a new report by Stats SA.
The highest percentage of grant recipients is in the Eastern Cape, where 59% of households are receiving at least one grant. Next in line is the Northern Cape at 57.4%, followed by the Free State at 50.7%.
Grants were least commonly allocated in Gauteng, where 30% of households were receiving at least one grant, and the Western Cape, at 36.7%. This is according to the latest General Household Survey, released by Stats SA on Tuesday. The current report is based on 2018 data.
While the report did not state which grants were being received, social grants in South Africa include old age pensions, child support grants, care dependency grants, grants in aid, war veteran grants, foster child grants and disability grants.
The distribution of grants differs along racial lines as well as between urban and rural areas, Stats SA said. "More than one-third of black African individuals (33.9%) received a social grant, compared to 29.9% of coloured individuals, and 12.5% of Indian/Asian individuals.
"By comparison, 7.5% of the white population received grants."
There was also a high concentration of grant recipients in cities. The report added: "[A total of] 21.3% of all individuals, and 34.0% of all households in metropolitan areas received some kind of social grant, compared to 31.0% of individuals and 44.3% of households nationally."
The report noted a large number of grant recipients in Buffalo City and Nelson Mandela Bay (NMB). The Eastern Cape has the country's highest unemployment rate, and NMB recorded the highest official unemployment rate of all metros in 2016.
"Large differences are noted between cities. Nearly three-tenths of individuals in Buffalo City (30.6%) and Nelson Mandela Bay (28.6%) benefited from social grants, compared to less than one-fifth in Ekurhuleni and City of Cape Town (both 19.2%), City of Tshwane (18.9%) and City of Johannesburg (18.7%)."
A similar pattern could be observed for households at metropolitan level, Stats SA added.
The General Household Survey has been used as an instrument to track the progress of development in South Africa since 2002, when it was first introduced.
"Now in its seventeenth iteration, the numbers that are released in the GHS 2018 report show how far the country has progressed over the past seventeen years in addressing its developmental challenges."
The current report outlines some achievements and challenges, as well as disparities in the level of the country's development and its individual communities, Stats SA said.