South Africa is one of the most unequal countries in the world. If you think about your household, how rich or poor do you think you are compared to other South Africans? SALDRU has developed this income comparison tool to help you see how income is distributed from the poorest to the richest in South Africa. In four easy clicks, you can find out where you are in South Africa’s income distribution and how you compare to the rest of the population.
Why this tool is important
Most people are wrong about where they are located in the income distribution. This tool was designed to help people understand the nature and extent of South Africa’s inequality.
We’ve produced some studies that demonstrate the lack of social mobility in South Africa as well as the vulnerability of the middle class, which are some of the reasons South Africa remains such an unequal society. When we talk about the lack of social mobility, we refer to “intergenerational failure”.
SALDRU’s research finds that 50% of South Africans are chronically poor. Only 20% of South Africans belong to the stable middle class, whilst 4% belong to the elite. The rest belong to the transient poor (11%) and the vulnerable middle class (15%). The chronically poor and vulnerable poor are predominantly African and to a lesser extent, coloured. The top end of the distribution is disproportionately white.
Learn more from our working papers, web resources and media outputs.
Working paper: Patterns of persistence: Intergenerational mobility and education in South Africa (updated, version 3)
Arden Finn, Murray Leibbrandt & Vimal Ranchhod
Working paper: Social stratification, life chances and vulnerability to poverty in South Africa
Simone Schotte, Rocco Zizzamia & Murray Leibbrandt
Web resource: Racial composition and social class in South Africa
Web resource: Intergenerational income mobility in South Africa
Video: Watch Prof. Murray Leibbrant talk about Understanding the Texture and Multidimensionality of Inequalities in South Africa
Video: Watch A/Prof. Patrizio Piraino talk about Intergenerational Mobility in South Africa
Op-ed: Stable middle-class in SA may be smaller than thought, study shows
Murray Leibbrandt & Rocco Zizzamia
Op-ed: Inequality in South Africa: Beyond the 1%
Fazila Farouk & Murray Leibbrandt
Other income comparison tools
SALDRU is not the first organization to develop an income comparison tool. Concerned about “Breadline Britain”, the Guardian newspaper, also developed an income tool that allows people to see how wealthy they are compared to their fellow countrymen. Staying in the UK, the Institute for Fiscal Studies recently launched a similar tool. Meanwhile, the OECD developed a global income comparison tool and CNNMoney, a global wage calculator.