In the Media

Business Day: Stable middle-class in SA may be smaller than thought

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6 October 2017 | SALDRU

Research by SALDRU’s Murray Leibbrandt and Rocco Zizzamia finds that South Africa’s middle class isn't as big as we think it is. The idea of a burgeoning black middle class that has transformed our society doesn't exist. SALDRU's research finds that a large proportion of the middle class is extremely vulnerable.

Longitudinal studies allow us to visit the same people repeatedly over a number of years. We've been surveying a sample of 28 000 people for almost a decade now and find that many new entrants to the middle class aren't able to hold onto their positions for a sustained period. Being in the stable middle class is not only about location in the literal middle of the income distribution: it means being free from poverty, not only today, but also tomorrow. It is about the freedom and stability to engage in mid-and long-term planning. By these criteria, what many celebrate as SA’s emerging middle class – which we term the "vulnerable" middle class – still has shallow roots.

SALDRU's research on the middle class was well received on social media as well as being getting in the mainstreamn media by Business Day.


Business Day: SA's Lost Generation - Youth with No Jobs and No Hope

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26 September 2017 | SALDRU

Lack of access and tertiary education has doomed a lost generation to a life of poverty and hopelessness wrote Saldrupians Cecil Mlatsheni and Vimal Ranchhod in Business Day on 6 September 2017.

“The journey from school to work is challenging for most young people, but it is much tougher for the majority of SA’s youth than it should be,” argue the authors. “There needs to be a concerted effort to move jobs to where people live, or to make it possible for people to live closer to opportunities. Young women need special policy attention.”

Read the article in Business Day.

Picture: Banksy


SA Has Worst Income Inequality, Murray Leibbrandt Tells LSE’s Atlantic Fellows

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29 September 2017 | SALDRU

Atlantic Fellows who are part of a new global programme grappling with the challenge of inequality visited Khayelitsha on Tuesday, 19 September, as part of an “immersion week” in Cape Town. Whilst there, they listened to SALDRU’s Murray Leibbrandt talk the crisis of inequality in South Africa and the Southern African region.

The Atlantic Fellows programme for Social and Economic Equity at the International Inequalities Institute is based at the London School of Economics (LSE). It provides the opportunity “for those from academic, third sector, campaign or policy-making organisations to explore the causes of inequalities”.

UCT’s Graduate School of Development Policy and Practice (GSDPP) hosted a week-long module for non-residential fellows in Cape Town. Leibbrandt reported that careful work by the World Bank shows that South Africa is the most unequal country in the world in terms of income inequality, with seven of the top ten countries coming from Sub-Saharan Africa. Sadly, for those of us living in the region, five of these seven are Southern African countries.


Watch: Saldrupians Engage Eminent Heterodox Economist on Capabilities Approach

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29 September 2017 | SALDRU

SALDRU's founding director, Emeritus Prof. Francis Wilson, chaired the Amartya Sen Lecture at the 2017 Human Development and Capabilities Association (HDCA) Annual Conference, which took place in Cape Town early September. The Sen lecture was delivered by world-famous heterodox economist, Prof. Jayati Ghosh, from the Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi. Ghosh talked about the Capabilities Approach and Inequality in a speech titled, "The Uses (and Abuses) of Social Inequality". SALDRU's Associate Professor, Vimal Ranchhod, was the discussant in this lecture.

SALDRU thanks the HDCA and UCT’s Poverty and Inequality Initiative for the opportunity to film this lecture. Watch it on Vimeo!

Seminar Series

SALDRU Hosts Regular Seminars Covering Important topical Issues

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Wednesdays, 13h00, School of Economics

SALDRU researchers, associates, affiliates and visiting scholars offer insightful seminars based on research on a large number of topics related to important socio-economic issues. SALDRU strives to provide rigorous data that is policy relevant. This is evident in the issues presented at our seminars.

Our recent seminars covered topics such as, “Can the media be used to make academic research more accessible?” by Pippa Green, “The Value of Reference Letters” by Patrizio Piraino, “Creating and perpetuating inequality: The institutional work of exploitation” by Ralph Hamman, "Returns to education, marital sorting and family background in South Africa by Peng Zhang" and "The effect and acceptability of conditional economic incentives for antiretroviral therapy initiation in HIV-positive adults in Cape Town, South Africa: A pilot randomized controlled trial" by Brendan Maughan-Brown.

For information about SALDRU's upcoming seminars, watch this space. You may also wish to join SADLRU's seminar mailing list, by contacting Amy Jephthah at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Seminar on the Impact of Tobacco Pricing and Packaging

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6 October 2017 | SALDRU

The most recent SALDRU seminar examined the impact of tobacco pricing and packaging strategies in South Africa in a study, which examined the impact of prices on smoking onset, smoking cessation and tobacco consumption. The study also analysed the effects of both tax and retail price according to their effect by socioeconomic status (SES), sex, and age with simulations to determine the ultimate impacts on tobacco use, tax revenue (financial benefits), and health outcomes by SES. 

The seminar was presented by postdoctoral Research Fellow in UCT’s School of Economics, Alfred Mukong of SALDRU's Economics of Tobacco Control Project.

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