98% of SA’s Poorest Black: Study

Times Live, February 1, 2012

Ninety eight percent of people in the lowest living standards measure (LSM 1) in South Africa in 2010 were black, a new study shows.

This was a slight decrease from 99.7 percent who were in LSM 1 in 2001, according to the SA Institute of Race Relations’ latest SA Survey.

Of people in the highest category, LSM 10, blacks comprised 19 percent of the total, up from three percent in 2001.

Sixty five percent of adults in LSM 10 in 2010 were white, compared with 87 percent in 2001.

“The data shows that the racial differences have narrowed slightly, with more representation of Africans in the top LSM groups than 10 years ago, demonstrating a growing African middle class,” the institute’s Lucy Holborn said.

But Holborn said this was considered an under-representation because blacks made up 76 percent of the adult population.

“There has been a shift to the higher LSMs but it is still racially skewed,” she said.

Living Standards Measures are a marketing tool developed by the SA Advertising Research Foundation which divides the population into segments to help define markets. It does not measure income but gathers data based on where people live and whether they own certain appliances and vehicles.

In 2001, 11 percent of adults were in LSM 1, the lowest living standard category.

By 2010, only two percent were in the lower LSM—a decrease of 77 percent.

The proportion of adults in the top three LSM categories—eight to 10—had also increased by 25 percent, the institute said.

In 2001, 16 percent of adults were in LSMs eight to 10, while by 2010 this had increased to 20 percent, or one in five adults.


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