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Newsletter No 1: June 2001 - About SARPN... and Map, Omega and the Compact

5. Measuring poverty in South Africa
Earlier this year Statistics South Africa - the agency dealing with official SA statistics - released a comprehensive report on four different ways in which poverty could be measured in South Africa. As such the report noted that the differing approaches added "to our understanding of poverty as a multi-dimensional phenomenon". Professor Charles Simkins, of the University of the Witwatersrand, concluded his critique of the report with the following observation:

"The achievements and limitations of these studies underscores the complexity of quantitative poverty and inequality analysis. One first has to judge the quality of the available data and possibly undertake some quite complex statistical manoeuvres to construct reasonably reliable indices. Then one has to produce descriptive measures which have interpretative significance. Finally, one has to work out the relationship between positive analysis and quantitative measures for the guidance of policy. All these challenges are substantial in contemporary South Africa, as the studies usefully show in their attempts to grapple with them".

The contents of the report are:

    Chapter One:    Introduction
    Chapter Two:    Combining census and survey data to construct a poverty map of South Africa
    Chapter Three:  Key baseline statistics for poverty measurement
    Chapter Four:    Earnings inequality in South Africa, 1995-1998
    Chapter Five:    Income distribution in South Africa: a social accounting matrix approach
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