Working Paper
Measuring wealth inequality in South Africa

An agenda

Understanding wealth inequality has unique significance in South Africa. The co-existence of extreme poverty and extreme wealth is starkly visible. Apartheid-era inequality has persisted despite more than 20 years of democracy. Much of the research on inequality has focused on inequality of income and of opportunities.

There is a large gap in understanding wealth inequality—levels of wealth inequality, how wealth is held, and the mechanism through which wealth inequality is produced and reproduced. This gap requires a specific research agenda, which this paper suggests.

Section 1 explores why studying wealth inequality is of fundamental importance. Section 2 reviews international data and methods used to research wealth inequality in other countries, before laying out a suggested approach to doing such studies in South Africa.