Gender-based household compositional changes and implications for poverty in South Africa

SOURCE: Journal of International Women's Studies
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
PUBLICATION YEAR: 2018
TITLE AUTHOR(S): C.O.Nwosu, C.Ndinda
KEYWORDS: HOUSEHOLD DYNAMICS, INEQUALITY, POVERTY
DEPARTMENT: Economic Perfomance and Development (EPD)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 10400

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Abstract

Poverty is one of the most challenging socio-economic problems in South Africa. Though poverty rates have been substantially reduced in the post-apartheid period, many South Africans remain poor. Available evidence also indicates a substantial gender gradient to the prevalence of poverty in the country. A standard indicator of gendered power structures is the gender of the household head. We examine the effect of transitioning from a male- to a female-headed household over time (relative to remaining in a male-headed household) on changes in the probability of transitioning into poverty from a non-poor state over a two- to six-year period. This type of longitudinal analysis is largely lacking in South Africa, where most previous studies have largely focused on cross-sectional and repeated cross-sectional analyses. The results indicate that transitioning from a male- to female-headed household is associated with an increase in the probability of falling into poverty from a previous non-poor state. The results hold true across all poverty lines and also indicate that the effect of gender-based transitions is not significant in the short term (i.e. for the one-period transitions), but over more persistent transitions.