SA 'must fight inequality'
SOUTH Africa must tackle economic inequality in order to create jobs and bring down unemployment statistics, according to a World Bank report released.
South Africa is one of the most unequal countries in the world, with a Gini coefficient of 0.7 in 2008, the bank noted in its "South Africa Economic Update: Focus on inequality of opportunity".
The Gini coefficient is an internationally used measure of income inequality.
The top 10% of the population accounted for 58% of South Africa's income.
The bottom 10% accounted for just 0.5% of income, and the bottom 50% less than 8%, said the bank.
"At the heart of high inequality lies the inability to create employment opportunities on a large enough scale," said the report.
Unemployment of 25.2% (or 33% if discouraged workers were included) was among the world's highest.
Social grants made up 70% of the income of the poorest 20% of South Africans.
If these grants were excluded, 40% of South Africans would have seen their income decline in the first decade after apartheid.
South Africa should thus focus on human capital development, particularly among children and youth.
Children should have the same opportunities regardless of family circumstances, race, gender or location.
Access to a basic set of goods and services during childhood could be an important predictor of future outcomes, including educational achievements and earnings.
These basic services included education, healthcare, essential infrastructure such as water, sanitation and electricity, and early childhood development programmes.
But access to other services was below 60%, including health insurance, a safe water supply, improved sanitation, adequate space without overcrowding, and finishing primary school.
Other opportunities, such as access to early childhood development programmes, safety in the neighbourhood and access to electricity, carried low to moderate inequality.