The impact of social grants as anti-poverty policy instruments in South Africa : an analysis using household theory to determine intra-household allocation of unearned income

Lekezwa, Bongisa Indira (2011-03)

Thesis (MComm)--University of Stellenbosch, 2011.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Social assistance is a large and fiscally costly component of anti-poverty policy in South Africa and therefore lends to the questions: Are the grants effective tools for reducing poverty in South Africa and, moreover, how significant is their impact on poverty? As a measure of reducing poverty and improving the non-social indicators of the poor, the government has expanded the social grants since the advent of the new democracy. The country‟s social grant system is advanced and covers a broad range of individuals, as it is intended to cover vulnerable individuals over their life course from childhood to adulthood and into old age. Policy discourse surrounding the grants centres on the sustainability of the system and their implications for development. It is therefore important that their significance is shown and that their impact is illustrated by highlighting their reach into severely poor households. As a measure of poverty alleviation on their own, the grants are not enough and South Africa‟s poverty alleviation strategy has to rest primarily on economic growth and job creation. In addition, there are significant challenges in the system, such as the fact that there is no poverty grant targeted specifically at the unemployed; consequently, too much strain is placed on the resources of grant-receiving households that the whole household is plunged into poverty. Accordingly, the question this raises is: How can government solve the problem of the poor clustering around these grants? This dissertation will systematically show that the use of social security as a poverty-alleviating tool is effective given the extent of poverty in South Africa and the limitations on resources. It will also show that the decision-making structures in households influence the way grants affect the resource allocation needed for achieving lower levels of poverty. The extent to which the cash transferred to poor households via the grant programmes reduces poverty is likely to be influenced significantly by the decision-making structures in the grant-receiving households. There is evidence that grant money is shared in extended households, which suggests that decision making is broadly unitary or cooperative. However, we can only observe the outcomes and not the decision-making process in this regard and therefore can only draw tentative conclusions. Although there is cause for concern regarding the propensity of social grants to affect people‟s behaviour negatively, there is a case to be made for retaining grants as an important, though not the only, form of anti-poverty strategy. This highlights the need for continued research on the labour market and the social grants causal relationship. It also shows that research into the fertility effects of the grants is wanting, especially if there are speculative concerns that might inform policy on the impact of CSG on fertility.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Sosiale bystand is „n groot en duur fiskale komponent van anti-armoede verligtingsbeleid in Suid Afrika en lei daarom tot die vrae: Is die toelaes effektiewe instrumente om armoede te verlig in Suid Afrika, en nog meer, hoe noemenswaardig is hulle impak op armoede? As „n maatstaf om armoede te verlig en die nie-sosiale armoede- aanwysers te verbeter van die armes, het die regering die sosiale toelaes vermeerder sedert die aanvang van demokrasie. Die land se sosiale toelae stelsel is gevorderd en dek „n wye verskeidenheid groepe van individue, aangesien dit bedoel is om weerlose individue te dek vanaf kind tot volwassene deurlopend tot die bejaarde. Beleidsdiskoers om die toelaes fokus op die volhoubaarheid van die stelsel en die implikasies daarvan vir ontwikkeling. Dit is daarom van belang dat die belangrikheid hiervan uitgewys word en die impak daarvan geillustreer word, deur op hul trefkrag te fokus in die armste van huishoudings. As „n middel to armoedeverligting op sigself is toelaes nie voldoende nie, en Suid-Afrika se armoede verligtingstrategie moet hoofsaaklik lê in werkskepping en ekonomiese groei. Verder is daar belangrike uitdagings in die stelsel, soos byvoorbeeld die feit dat daar geen armoede toelaes spesifiek gemik op die werkloses is nie; „n gevolg hiervan is dat daar te veel druk geplaas word op die bronne van die huishoudings wat toelaes ontvang en dat die hele huishouding in armoede gedompel word. Gevolglik ontstaan die vraag: Hoe kan die regering die probleem oplos van konsentrering van die armes rondom die toelaes? Hierdie dissertasie sal sistematies wys dat die gebruik van sosiale sekuriteit as „n armoede- verligtingsbeleid is effektiek gegewe die omvangreikheid van armoede in Suid Afrika en die beperkings op bronne. Dit sal ook wys dat die besluitnemingstrukture in huishoudings beinvloed die manier waarop toelaes die bron-allokasie beinvloed om laer vlakke van armoede te bereik. Die vlak waartoe die kontant oordraging na die arm huishoudings via die toelaes die vlak van armoede verlig word in alle waarskynlikheid tot „n groot mate beinvloed deur die besluitnemingstrukture in sodanige huishoudings wat toelaes ontvang. Daar is bewyse dat die toelaes gedeel word in uitgebreide huishoudings, wat daarop aandui dat besluitneming breedweg unitêr geneem word of gesamentlik. Ons kan egter slegs die uitkomste en nie die besluitnemingsproses in die verband bespeur nie en kan daarom slegs tot tentatiewe gevolgtrekkings kom. Alhoewel daar wel rede to kommer is vir die geneigdheid van toelaes om mense se gedrag negatief te beinvloed, is waar wel „n saak om toelaes te behou, hoewel nie as die enigste, maar wel as „n belangrike vorm van armoedeverligting. Dit lê die klem op die nodigheid van deurlopende navorsing op die arbeidsmark en die toelae- oorsaaklikheidsverhouding. Dit wys ook dat navorsing op die vrugbaarheidseffek van die toelaes is nodig, veral as daar spekulatiewe besorgdheid is wat die beleid op die impak van kindertoelaes op fertiliteit mag beinvloed.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/6653
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