How current measures underestimate the level of poverty in South Africa

Unlike many other countries, South Africa does not have one recognised “official” poverty line. Instead, a number of different thresholds are used, and there’s little clarity on the appropriateness of each threshold.

A study we recently undertook suggests that Statistics South Africa’s upper-bound poverty line underestimates poverty. The Stats SA line indicates that approximately 53% of South Africans are poor, but ours suggests that this is closer to 63%. In 2011 Rands, the Stats SA line is R779 per person per month while ours is R1042 per person per month.

Our upper-bound line is equivalent to R43 per person per day in March 2015 prices. Our food poverty (or extreme poverty) line is equivalent to about R15 per day.