Child poverty and the performance of the child support grant in South Africa

Streak, Judith Christine (Stellenbosch : University of Stellenbosch, 2011-03)

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: One of the cruelest legacies of the apartheid era in South Africa was that it created a situation in which a very large proportion of children in the African and Coloured populations live in households affected by severe poverty. The first aim of this dissertation is to make a contribution to knowledge about the South African child poverty profile and its sensitivity to the adult equivalence scale used in measurement. This contribution is based on the Income & Expenditure Survey 2005. In April 1998, following the recommendations of the Lund Committee, the Child Support Grant (CSG) cash transfer programme was introduced. This programme initially paid a benefit of R100 a month to primary caregivers who passed a means test to help them care for children age 0-6. Currently it offers R250 to primary caregivers of children age 0-15 who pass a means test. The second aim of this dissertation is to synthesize the main findings and knowledge gaps of the performance of the CSG based on an analysis of the existing research on the programme. The questions used to structure the CSG analysis are derived from an application of the Rossi et al. (2004) systematic approach for tailoring a social programme evaluation and cover the logic of the programme‘s impact theory, implementation impact and design. Chapter one considers conceptual and methodological issues in child poverty measurement, thereby providing methodological foundations for the analysis. Chapter two reviews the existing research on child poverty in South Africa and identifies knowledge gaps that the Income and Expenditure Survey of 2005 analysis contributes towards filling. Chapter three presents the findings on the sensitivity of the child poverty profile to changes in the adult equivalence scale as well as on the dimensions of the South African child poverty profile. Chapter four describes the Rossi et al. (2004) method for tailoring a social programme evaluation and applies it, thereby laying the foundations for the CSG programme analysis, presented in chapter five. The conclusion explains how the child poverty analysis in the first half of the dissertation relates to the CSG analysis in the second and draws implications of the dissertation‘s main findings for future research. Setting the poverty line at the 40th percentile of households calculated with different AESs, the scope and composition of child poverty are found to be relatively insensitive to the scale used. This supports the argument that it may be appropriate in South Africa to use a poverty line based on a per capita welfare measure. For the construction of the poverty profile per capita income is used as the welfare indicator, with the poverty line set at the 40th percentile of household. The profile finds that poverty remains more extensive amongst children than adults even after the massive injection of cash via the CSG into poor households with children. Large variations across provinces remain. The child poverty headcount and depth and severity measures are all found to be higher amongst children age 0-4 than children age 15-17, despite the prioritization of very young children in the roll out of the CSG programme. The finding that children age 0-4 are still most in need questions the logic behind the government‘s recent decision to expand coverage of the grant to children age 15-17 instead of allocating additional funds to support this group. The CSG programme impact theory is found to be reasonable. A substantial amount of research on the programme‘s implementation is identified, which shows the massive expansion in its coverage since 2000 and that, in general, it has been well implemented. Delay in reaching very young eligible children, under-representation of children with non-biological caregivers and failure to reach some of the very poorest children who live in remote areas emerge as weaknesses in programme implementation. Barriers to access are identified. The difficulty of distilling the effects of the CSG programme on child poverty and its associated deprivations in the absence of a randomized community trial is explained, as is the need to use direct rather than indirect monetary indicators to isolate the impacts of the CSG on child poverty. A small yet convincing evidence base on the impacts of the programme is identified; this shows that it has been achieving its ultimate objectives of reducing child deprivation and promoting human capital development. It is argued that the existing research and current budgetary context suggests that: the income means test should not be eliminated; the CSG benefit value should not be raised substantially; school related conditions should not have been linked to receipt of the CSG benefit; and, even in the case of children age 16 and above, the grant should be paid to children via the primary caregiver. The research priorities implied by this dissertation are organized into three separate yet interrelated areas of research. The first is further research on the dimensions of multi-dimensional child poverty in South Africa. Here the spotlight needs to be on: understanding more about which children are deprived and in what sense; similarities and differences between the composition of poverty based on indirect monetary measures and other more direct measures of deprivation; the circumstances which ensure that children age 0-4 are still most in need (at least in the resource deprivation sense). The second area is research on the implementation of the CSG programme, in which case the findings from the existing research on the weaknesses in programme implementation and concerns about targeting outcomes need to guide the research. The third area of research identified as requiring further attention is that of the CSG‘s impacts on child deprivation (wellbeing). Here the focus needs to be on establishing which children are benefiting most and least from the grant and why. Towards this end quantitative researchers need to follow the lead of other researchers and use direct indicators of child outcomes. Qualitative research on who controls the resources that flow into the household, as well as how resources are allocated inside the household, can make an important contribution to answering these questions. The CSG‘s potential to generate behavioral effects which could alter household structure and/or income earned from wages is something that is also identified as important for researchers to explore.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Een van die wreedste erfenisse van Suid-Afrika se apartheid-era was dat dit ‘n toestand geskep het waarin die grootse gros van swart en kleurling kinders in huishoudings geleef het wat deur armoede geraak is. Die eerste doel van hierdie proefskrif is om ‘n bydrae te lewer tot kennis omtrent die Suid-Afrikaanse kinderarmoedeprofiel en hoe sensitief dit is vir die volwassene-ekwivalentskaal waarmee dit gemeet word. Die empiriese bydrae oor die kinderarmoedeprofiel en sy sensitiwiteit vir die VES is gebaseer op die Inkomste- en Bestedingstudie van 2005. Na die aanbevelings van die Lund-komitee is die Kinderbystandstoelae (KBT), ʼn program van kontantoordragte, in April 1998 bekendgestel. Die program het aanvanklik ʼn voordeel van R100 per maand aan primêre versorgers betaal wat aan 'n middeletoets voldoen het om hulle te help om kinders van 0 tot 6 jaar oud te versorg. Tans word R250 aangebied aan primêre versorgers van kinders van 0 tot 16 jaar wat aan die middeletoets voldoen. Die tweede doel van hierdie proefskrif is om vas te stel wat die belangrikste vrae is wat tans gevra behoort te word omtrent die KBT se vertoning, gegrond op ʼn analise van die bestaande navorsing oor hierdie program, om die bevindings en kennisleemtes hieroor saam te vat. Hoofstuk 1 beskou konsepsuele en metodologiese kwessies rakende die metings van kinderarmoede, wat die metodologiese grondslag vir hierdie analise bied. Hoofstuk 2 gee 'n oorsig van die bestaande navorsing oor kinderarmoede in Suid-Afrika en identifiseer sodoende die kennisleemtes, wat die analise van die IBS help vul. Hoofstuk 3 bied bevindinge oor die ontleding van die sensitiwiteit van die kinderarmoedeprofiel vir die volwasse-ekwivalentskaal wat gebruik word en dateer hierdie profiel op met gebruik van die Inkomste- en Bestedingstudie van 2006. Hoofstuk 4 beskryf Rossi et el. (2004) se metode oor hoe om ʼn maatskaplike program te beoordeel en pas dit toe om belangrike vrae te identifiseer wat oor die KBT gevra behoort te word. Hoofstuk 5 bied antwoorde op hierdie vrae rakende die KBT sowel as bevindinge en kennisleemtes uit die literatuur rakende die KBT-program. Deur die armoedelyn op die 40e persentiel van huishoudings soos met verskillende VES‘e bereken te stel, word gevind dat die omvang en samestelling van kinderarmoede redelik onsensitief is vir die skaal wat gebruik word. Dit ondersteun die argument dat dit toepaslik mag wees om 'n per capita armoedelyn vir berekening van Suid-Afrikaanse armoedeprofiele te gebruik. Dus word die armoedelyn op die 40e persentiel van per capita inkomste gestel vir die konstruksie van die armoedeprofiel. Hierdie profiel toon dat armoede onder kinders meer algemeen is as onder volwassenes, selfs ná die massiewe inspuiting van kontant in arm huishoudings met kinderlede deur die KBT. Daar bly groot onderskeide tussen provinsies. Vir kinders 0 tot 4 is die koppetelling, diepte en intensiteit van kinderarmoede alles hoër as vir ouer kinders tot in die groep 15–17. Dit ondersteun die regering se huidige beleid om voorkeur te verleen aan jonger kinders in die stryd teen armoede. Die teorie agter die KBT program se impak word as redelik beoordeel. ʼn Beduidende hoeveelheid navorsing bestaan oor die KBT se implementering. Dit toon die massiewe uitbreiding van die program sedert 2000 en dat die program in die algemeen goed geïmplementeer is. Swakpunte in implementering wat uitgewys word is die sloering om baie jong kwalifiserende kinders te bereik en onderverteenwoordiging van kinders waarvan die versorgers nie biologies verwant is aan die kinders nie. Daar word aangevoer dat die beperkte navorsing oor die KBT-program se impak daarop dui dat dit sy uiteindelike doelstelling bereik om kinderontbering te verminder en menslike kapitaal te bevorder. Die analise van die KBT-program lei tot die slotsom dat die inkomste-middeletoets nie uitgeskakel moet word nie, dat skoolplig-voorwaardes nie vir die program moes ingestel geword het nie, dat die voordeelvlakke van die program nie tans beduidend verhoog moet word nie en dat die toelae ook in die geval van ouer kinders (16 jaar en meer) wel steeds aan die primêre versorger uitbetaal behoort te word. Een duidelike kennisleemte oor die KBT-program is hoe dit gedrag beïnvloed, in die vorm van arbeidsmigrasie, arbeidsaanbod en fertiliteit, sowel as gesinstruktuur en reëlings rondom die versorging van kinders. ʼn Verdere kennisleemte is hoe die program op die vlak van beleid en implementering met ander ondersteuningsmaatsreëls vir kinders geïntegreer is. Die analise wys op die behoefte daaraan om beleidsopsies te verken wat sal help dat kinders wie se versorgers nie biologiese verwante is nie netsoveel sal baat van die inkomste wat weens die KBT in arm huishoudings invloei as ander kinders. Navorsingsprioriteite wat uit hierdie proefskrif se bevindinge spruit kan in drie onafhanklike maar gekoppelde navorsingsgebiede gegroepeer word. Die eerste is verdere navorsing oor die dimensies van multi-dimensionele kinderarmoede in Suid-Afrika. Hier behoort die soeklig te val op: ʼn beter begrip van watter kinders ontbeer en in watter sin; ooreenkomste en verskille tussen die samestelling van armoede gebaseer op indirekte monetêre maatstawwe en ander meer direkte maatstawwe van ontbering; en wat veroorsaak dat kinders in die ouderdomsgroep 0-4 se behoefte steeds die grootste is (ten minste in die hulpbron-ontbering sin van die woord). Die tweede gebied is navorsing oor die implementering van die KBT-program, waar bevindinge oor swakhede in program-implementering uit bestaande navorsing en besorgdheid oor die uitkomste van teikening navorsing behoort te rig. Die derde navorsingsgebied wat verdere aandag verg is die KBT se impak op kinderontbering en -welsyn. Hier behoort die klem daarop te val om vas te stel watter kinders die meeste voordeel trek uit die toelae en hoekom dit die geval is. In hierdie verband word geargumenteer dat kwantitatiewe navorsers ander navorsers se voorbeeld behoort te volg en direkte maatstawwe van kinderuitkomste behoort te gebruik. Kwalitatiewe navorsing oor wie bronne beheer wat die huishouding binnevloei en hoe dit binne die huishouding toegedeel word, kan veel tot die beantwoording van hierdie vrae bydra. Nog iets wat uitgewys word as ʼn belangrike gebied wat navorsers verder moet ontgin is die KBT se potensiële effek op gedrag wat huishoudingstruktuur en/of looninkomste beïnvloed.

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