Social development

South Africa's living standards improve

29 August 2012

The number of South African adults at the lowest living standard fell from 11% in 2001 to 1% in 2011, the South African Institute of Race Relations announced when it released its latest research on Tuesday.

The number of people with the highest living standards also improved in the ten-year period, rising from 5% to 6%.

These statistics are calculated by using Living Standard Measures (LSMs), a marketing tool introduced by the South African Advertising Research Foundation.

"People are grouped according to objective criteria, such as whether they are urbanised, own motor vehicles or major appliances, or having running water or a flush toilet in or outside the house," researcher at the Race Relations Institute, Georgina Alexander, said in a statement.

"Income is not used to determine a personís LSM. LSM 1 is the lowest or poorest category and LSM 10 the highest."

According to the research, the greatest proportion of adults - 14.3% - were classified as being in LSM 3 in 2001. In 2011 the proportion of people in LSM 3 had dropped to 6.1% and the greatest proportion of adults - 22.4% - were grouped in LSM 6.

"Over the last decade there has been a general migration from the bottom three (1- 3) to the middle four (4-7) LSMs, showing a general increase in living standards," Alexander said.

"The improvement can be attributed in part to the increase in the number of people receiving social payments, such as old-age pensions and the child support grant."

For instance, the number of recipients of the child grant increased by 1 200% between 2001 and 2011.

"In 2001 some 8% of South Africans were beneficiaries of grants. This proportion increased to 29% in 2010/11 and accounted for 10% of government expenditure," she said.

SAinfo reporter


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