Understanding wealth inequality in South Africa

by Aroop Chatterjee

Wealth inequality has unique significance in South Africa, given the context of wealth accumulation through colonial and apartheid regimes, and the continuing inequality post-apartheid. Furthermore, international literature has shown how growing polarisation of wealth distribution has had adverse economic and social impacts. Addressing wealth inequality has become a priority of South African policy makers, and policies are discussed without the underlying rigorous academic understanding of the nature of wealth in South Africa.  Therefore, measuring the overall wealth distribution is a first and urgent step in having a more complete understanding of wealth inequality in South Africa. This will allow us to assess what the similarities and differences are compared to other countries, and provide a richer information source to find effective policy tools.