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The feminisation of poverty and female headship in post-apartheid South Africa, 1997-2006.

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A large and growing body of scholarship has suggested that income poverty has recently decreased in post-apartheid South Africa. Evidence for an overall drop in poverty rates notwithstanding, there has been very little work which has examined the gendered nature of poverty. There have, however, been important changes over the period which might suggest that poverty trends have been gendered. On the one hand, for example, the post-apartheid period has seen the expansion of several grants to support the care-givers of children and the elderly as well as employment growth for women. On the other hand, this same period has been characterised by declining marital rates, rising rates of female unemployment, and women increasingly overrepresented in low-wage work, changes which would be expected to have negative implications for women's economic well-being. This thesis uses nationally representative household survey data from the October Household Surveys (1997 and 1999) and the General Household Surveys (2004 and 2006) to investigate gendered trends in income poverty in several different ways. It examines first, whether females are more likely to live in poor households than males, and whether this has changed over time; and second, how poverty has changed among female- and male-headed households. The thesis also considers why females and female-headed households are more vulnerable to poverty and why the poverty differential between males and females (and female- and male-headed households) may have widened over time. Given the criticism of headship based analyses of income poverty, the thesis also investigates poverty and female headship in greater detail by adopting several alternative definitions of female headship that are commonly used in the literature.


Thesis (Ph.D.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, 2011.


Women heads of households--South Africa., Poverty--South Africa., Poor women--South Africa., Low-income women--South Africa., Theses--Development studies.