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Country analysis > South Africa Last update: 2020-11-27  

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Committee reports of the Taylor Committee into a social security system for South Africa.

Committee Report No 2: The socio-economic context: An imperative for social protection
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Table of contents

2.1. Introduction
2.2. South Africa’s Demographic Challenge
  2.2.1. The impact of HIV/AIDS
  2.2.2. The apartheid labour-welfare nexus Governments affect income distribution in indirect and direct ways.
  2.2.3. The impact of HIV/AIDS
2.3. The importance of public transfers
  2.3.1. Access to wage income
  2.3.2. Wage inequality
2.4. Changes in Inequality in the 1990s
  2.4.1. Intra-racial inequalities
  2.4.2. Unemployment during the post-apartheid period
  2.4.3. The restructuring of employment
  2.4.4. New evidence on poverty in South Africa
2.5. The challenges of Post-apartheid social policy reform
  2.5.1. The old-age pension
  2.5.2. Child support grants
  2.5.3. The private sector
2.6. Findings and Recommendations
APPENDICES - 29Kb < 1min (2 pages)
REFERENCES - 18Kb < 1min (3 pages)

Complete Document - 122Kb ~ 1 min (28 pages)


South Africa’s social safety net has its roots in a set of apartheid labour and welfare policies that were racially biased and premised on full-employment. The last vestiges of state racial discrimination have subsequently been removed, but a key underlying principle of the old system remains in place, i.e. the assumption that those in the labour force can support themselves through work, and that unemployment is a temporary condition. Means-tested child-support grants and old- age pensions are now available to all on a non-discriminatory basis—but those who cannot find work (and who do not, or no longer, qualify for Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) payments) fall through a vast hole in the social safety net. The social security system needs to be adapted to fit this reality.

This chapter outlines an analysis of the socio-economic context within which the Committee of Inquiry formulates its recommendations for a reform of the social security system. It points to the changing nature of inequality in South Africa and shows that the current safety net needs adapting to suit today’s labour-surplus economy. Ideally, people should be able to earn a living through employment rather than rely on welfare transfers. The government’s macroeconomic strategy aims to push the economy onto a sustainable growth path that will generate jobs. However, given the apartheid backlogs, the size of the unemployment problem and the extent of the growth challenge, full-employment is not a feasible scenario in the short- to medium term. South Africa’s labour policies (which protect wages and promote skills development and productivity growth) must thus be accompanied by social policies that provide a social safety net or social protection for the unemployed, the marginalised and socially excluded.

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