Browsing by Author "Orthofer, Anna Franziska"
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- ItemSaving and wealth in the context of extreme inequality(Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2017-12) Orthofer, Anna Franziska; Du Plessis, Stanislaus Alexander; Reid, Monique Brigitte; Von Fintel, Dieter; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences. Dept. of Economics.ENGLISH SUMMARY : Saving and wealth are important determinants for the wellbeing of individual households and the development of whole economies. Unlike flow variables like income and consumption, however, balance sheet data on wealth have been collected only recently. Among the developing countries, South Africa has been the rst to publish ocial household sector balance sheets, one of the rst to conduct large-scale household wealth surveys, and one of the first to give researchers access to anonymised tax records. In this dissertation, I use these new data to study saving and wealth in the context of a developing country with extreme inequality. The rst chapter focuses on saving and studies how the balance sheet concept of saving (the change in wealth between two periods of time) differs from the flow concept (the residual between income and expenditure). It finds that household wealth has grown much more strongly over the last decades than would have been implied by the flow measure of saving alone, owing to sizeable capital gains on existing asset holdings. The second chapter puts this nding into an international perspective, tying it to the literature that developed from Thomas Piketty's influential Capital in the Twenty-First Century (2014). While Piketty nds that capital gains contributed to a strong increase in rich-world wealth-income ratios between 1970 and 2010, I find that a similar trend started only in the late 1990s in South Africa. I also nd that this trend was generated almost entirely through corporate savings and the strong performance of the stock market, which contrasts with the importance of household savings and house price developments in Piketty's sample of advanced economies. Since a large share of stocks are held through domestic pension and retirement funds, the appreciation of nancial assets has beneted millions of South Africans. Yet, it is very likely that the boom has enriched a small number of individual shareholders disproportionately. The third chapter thus takes a distributional perspective on wealth, using two distinct data sources to estimate the degree of inequality in the country. I compare a survey with 18,820 respondents in 6,450 households to a novel dataset of almost 1.2 million personal income tax records. Despite the differences in the coverage of each source, I nd robust evidence that wealth is much more unequally distributed than income. Ten percent of the population own more than 50-95 percent of all wealth, compared to a top labour income share of “only” 45 percent. While an income or consumption perspective thus allows us to speak of a South African middle class, the balance sheet data suggest that a propertied middle class is still largely non-existent.