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Middle-class South Africans fewer than estimated

08 September 2016 - 14:25 By Nomahlubi Jordaan

The struggle to live a middle-class life in South Africa is highlighted by a new household study‚ which spells out how small this segment is and how even those who begin to climb the ladder slip down again. Women are the most affected by poverty.

Image: Gallo Images/iStockphoto

The National Income Dynamics Study (NIDS)‚ launched by the Department of Planning‚ Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) in Pretoria on Thursday‚ states that "non-poor women" are no more likely to become poor than men who are not poor‚ but they are less likely to leave the poverty cycle.

The NIDS is the first national household panel study in South Africa. The aim of the NIDS is to provide empirical data on the changing socio-economic dynamics of South African society.

The study surveyed 28‚000 people who were tracked every two years from 2008 to 2015.

“About 62% of the males in our balanced panel of Wave 1 (2008) … were consistently employed. In contrast‚ of the women‚ 47% were employed consistently‚ while 16% were unemployed compared with 7% of males‚” the study reveals.

The study also shows that the South African middle class is much smaller than estimated‚ sitting at around 14.5% of the total population in 2014.

“...It has not grown much since 1993 - growing its share by only two percentage points in the past 23 years…”

According to the study‚ those in the middle class have a tendency to drop in and out of poverty.