Decent Standard of Living

A Decent Standard of Living

Quantifying a decent standard of living in monetary terms

SASPRI has collaborated with colleagues at the Studies in Poverty and Inequality Institute (SPII), now Social Policy Initiative (SPI) and the Labour Research Service (LRS) to estimate the amount of income associated with a decent standard of living for all South Africans. This culminated in 2018 with the launch of a project report and infographic in Midrand. The project was funded by the Wits School of Governance at the University of the Witwatersrand.

This project built on several earlier studies over the past decade, including work by members of SASPRI in determining socially perceived necessities for an acceptable standard of living which involved focus groups across South Africa, and dedicated modules in the South African Social Attitudes Survey and the Living Conditions Survey. Reports from these studies are available here.

The 2018 study found that a monthly income of around R7,000 per person was associated with a decent standard of living. This amount is the median per capita household income of people who possess a set of indicative items that are widely regarded as essential for an acceptable standard of living in South Africa. The items include material possessions, features of the local neighbourhood and social networks. The 2018 amount has been updated each year using a special subset of the CPI.

With funding from UNICEF South Africa, the 2018 work was updated in two further studies in 2021 and 2022. The 2021 study sought to refresh the set of socially perceived necessities included in the definition of a decent standard of living through a telephonic survey. The 2022 study was concerned with measuring possession of the refreshed socially perceived necessities and household income, again through a telephonic survey, in order to provide an updated estimate of the amount of income associated with a decent standard of living.

Visit the DSL website for further information and additional outputs from the study.

 

Minimum Income Standard

SASPRI, the Studies in Poverty and Inequality Institute and the Labour Research Service took part in a pilot study to test the applicability of the “Minimum Income Standard” (MIS) approach to estimate the income required for a decent standard of living in middle income developing countries. The study was led by the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University, and involved pilots in both South Africa and Mexico.

SASPRI was responsible for the fieldwork in South Africa which took place in Cape Town and the Eastern Cape. A report of the South African pilot is available here.

Click here to access papers from a workshop organised to disseminate the results of the pilot