A multidimensional analysis of poverty in South Africa since the transition (1996-2007) using the fuzzy sets approach.
With the transition to a democratic society, one of the challenges to emerge was to provide economic freedoms for all – that is, freedom from isolation, freedom from powerlessness, freedom from hunger, and freedom from poverty. Fighting poverty has always been high on the agenda of the democratic government since the transition. Numerous measures and policies were instituted aimed at reducing poverty. Researchers initiated serious efforts to try and understand the nature and extent of poverty, through various studies being conducted. Many of these studies focused only on money-metric measures, despite the fact that poverty is a multidimensional concept. What has resulted are various poverty-measurement methods producing different results on the extent of poverty. In addition, certain aspects of these money-metric approaches have serious shortcomings. The fuzzy sets approach addresses many of these shortcomings, as it is a multidimensional approach. Few studies have used this approach to measure poverty in South Africa. This thesis plans to use this method to analyse poverty levels and trends in South Africa, focusing on multidimensional, non-money-metric poverty. Data from Census 1996, Census 2001 and Community Survey 2007 will be used for the study. From the results of the analysis it was established that there is some divergence in the findings of money-metric approaches and those of fuzzy sets. A key result to emerge is the difference in poverty trends over the period 1996 – 2007. Most studies reviewed in Chapter Three that used the money-metric approach showed that poverty trends were upward in the 1990s, before a downward trend took place in the 2000s. This took place irrespective of the survey data used. The non-money-metric poverty trends derived in this chapter, however, show a continuous downward trend over the period. The overall mean deprivation in South Africa has declined since 1996. For people residing in provinces such as Limpopo, the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, they are more likely to be poor under the fuzzy sets approach. This may be an indication of inadequate service delivery and the extent to which recent government measures to address poverty have been successful or not. In terms of race, blacks still have the highest mean deprivation, but enjoyed the biggest decline of mean deprivation between 1996 and 2007. Finally, mean deprivation for female-headed households in South Africa was also higher than for male-headed households over the period.