Policy Brief 2 – Towards a Decent Living Level

By Isobel Frye —

This Policy Brief sets out the parameters of a new study into developing a minimum living level being undertaken by SPII and contains an Appendix with useful current poverty, unemployment and social grant information.

Despite the political transition in 1994 from an exclusionary, racial capitalist state under Apartheid to an inclusive democratic one, and notwithstanding having one of the most progressive constitutions globally, South Africa continues to face the destructive and corrosive dynamics inherent in being a country with one of the most unequal levels of income inequality across both the developed and developing worlds and exceedingly high levels of income and asset poverty. Broad unanimity exists that these dynamics pose a potentially insurmountable obstacle to
building the levels of social cohesion necessary to complete the transformation of our society into a vibrant, inclusive and productive nation. High levels of income inequality have been found to reduce the potential of economic growth to reduce poverty levels1 in any significant way, which effectively questions the underlying assumptions in the principle of ‘redistribution through growth’, first introduced officially through GEAR in 1996, although its resonance continues in the absence of any significant mechanisms for redistribution of vested ownership or access in subsequent policy iterations, including the National Development Plan 2030.

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