This paper uses a framework which allows for the multi-dimensionality of poverty and the vague borderline between the poor and non-poor, in conjunction with results from a recent survey conducted in three locations in South Africa. The 'core poor' are those who are unambiguously poor and 'vulnerability' is defined in terms of how close one is to being definitely poor in some dimension of poverty. Our results suggest that some South Africans set very tough standards for someone to qualify as poor. Even by these standards, however, there is considerable core poverty in South Africa. The core poor include households with either no or only a small proportion of adults in work and those that lack education and health care. In certain other dimensions (housing and clean water) the main problem is extreme vulnerability. These results lead us to reassess the findings of, and policy implications of, recent studies of poverty in South Africa.
Core Poverty and Extreme Vulnerability in South Africa presented at Staying Poor: Chronic Poverty and Development Policy, Institute for Development Policy and Management, University of Manchester, 7-9 April 2003. Chronic Poverty Research Centre (CPRC), Manchester, UK, 41 pp.