Key Points:

  • Inequality in South Africa is getting worse. “Inequality in South Africa and Brazil” unpacks how inequality is measured and compares South Africa’s situation with Brazil’s, where indicators point to falling inequality over the past 15 years.
  • According to the Gini coefficient calculated using per capita income, South Africa’s income inequality increased from 0.66 in 1993 to 0.70 in 2008.
  • Using household income to measure inequality can result in an underestimation and overestimation of income inequality because income may be gross or net of taxes, transfers from government may be included or excluded thus leaving room for inaccuracy.
  • The approaches to calculating the two countries’ Gini coefficients are reliable, are used consistently and the statistical evidence suggests that levels of inequality in Brazil have been falling but has been broadly unchanged in South Africa.