Launch of a Decent Standard of Living for South Africa

A Decent Standard of Living will be released for the first time in South Africa on Tuesday 20 November. This standard is set at R7 043 per person per month – a standard that less than 4% of South Africans currently enjoy.

South Africa is a text book example for post – liberation economic inequalities. The absolute numbers of people battling to survive on a daily basis has been growing since 2011, as has the pace of inequality. Statistics South Africa launched a shocking report last year that found that more than in in every four people in South Africa live below that starvation level.

With such headlines, the discourse of poverty and wealth easily crowd out any other reflections. A ground-breaking, globally innovative study conducted over the last 18 months is being launched on 20 November 2018. This study is launching a completely different discussion, and that is – how much does it cost to live a decent life in South Africa?

In 2018, it will cost South Africans R7 043 per person per month to live a decent life. Currently less than 4% of South Africans are able to meet this standard.

“Poverty is not seen, the poor are blanked out” says Isobel Frye, Director of Studies in Poverty and Inequality Institute (SPII), the co-ordinating research institute on the standard. “Despite the constitutional rights to life, equality and dignity, poverty condemns families to intergenerational existence to the margins. This is a difficult discussion for many leaders to hear, because of the historic sacrifices for liberations, but we are seeing millions of young people being born into a world that will offer them no chance to get a job, to establish a household and family and to pursue career path. The youth are condemned to perpetual infantility from an economic and hence a social perspective”, Frye continues.

This research was undertaken at the behest of the Department of Social Development. It has resonance with the mandate of the National Planning Commission to foster national discussions on what would constitute a decent standard of living. The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights noted last month that South Africa lacks any way to measure and monitor whether people’s lives are in fact getting better.

“This standard is very exciting”, continued Frye. “It will present a standard against which the value of social grants can be measured, as well as sectoral wage settings and the national minimum wage. We can measure that CEOs earn thousands of times that amount per month and ask why they are worth so much more decency than other people.”

The DSL should be seen as the goal for the progressive realisation of the rights and objectives contained in the Constitution of South Africa.

The launch will be opened by National Planning Commissioner Professor Viviene Taylor, and popular economic journalist, Thandeka Gqubule – Mbeki. The colloquium will explore the Apartheid history to minimalist poverty lines and will seek to explore how the DSL can be drawn on to force policies to be more pro-poor.

The research was led by Studies in Poverty and Inequality Institute. The technical work was headed by South African Social Policy Research Institute and the Labour Research Service, funded by the Department of Social Development and Wits University. The Colloquium is supported by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.



For further queries please call:

Kulani Mashele

Gemma Wright: 071 892 1717

Isobel Frye 0845081271 (after Thursday 15 November 2018).