Race, Gender and Growth of the Affluent Middle Class in Post-Apartheid South Africa

Working paper 395
Author(s): 
Justin Visagie
Publication date: 
November, 2013
Journal: 
Development Southern Africa

This paper examines the development of the middle class in post-apartheid South Africa, using data from the 1993 Project for Statistics on Living Standards and Development, the 2000 Income and Expenditure Survey/Labour Force Survey and the 2008 National Income Dynamics Study. The affluent middle class are defined as individuals residing in a household with a per capita income of R1,400 – R10,000 per month in 2008 prices. The paper explores changes in the size of the middle class as well as the racial and gender profile of the middle class within the context of Black Economic Empowerment in South Africa. The affluent middle class experienced very modest growth over the period, only slightly ahead of population growth. There was however substantial churning in the racial composition of the middle class, with a large increase in the number of Africans accompanied by a fewer number of Whites. The gender profile of the middle class showed less conclusive evidence of transformation. The upper class similarly experienced significant racial transformation and more than doubled in size, and also accrued a higher share of total income (at the expense of the income shares of middle and lower classes).

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