Measuring wealth inequality in South Africa: An agenda

March, 2019
by Aroop Chatterjee

Abstract

Understanding wealth inequality has unique significance in South Africa.  The co-existence of extreme poverty and extreme wealth is starkly visible. Apartheid-era inequality has persisted despite more than 20 years of democracy. Much of the research on inequality has focussed on inequality of income and of opportunities. There is a large gap in understanding wealth inequality - levels of wealth inequality, how wealth is held, and the mechanism through which wealth inequality is produced and reproduced. This gap requires a specific research agenda which this paper suggests. The first section will explore why studying wealth inequality is of fundamental importance. The second section will review international data and methods used to research wealth inequality in other countries, before laying out suggested approach to doing such studies in South Africa.

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