South Africa’s Racial Income Inequality Persists, Census Shows

South Africa’s first census in a decade shows wealth disparities between race groups that persist 18 years after the end of apartheid.

While incomes for black households increased an average 169 percent over 10 years, their annual earnings are 60,613 rand ($6,987), or a sixth of that for whites, Statistics South Africa said in a report released in Cape Town today. About 80 percent of South Africa’s 51.8 million population is black.

“These figures tell us that at the bottom of the rung is the black majority who continue to be confronted by deep poverty, unemployment and inequality,” President Jacob Zuma said at the release of the results. “Great strides have been made. However, much remains to be done to further improve the livelihoods of our people especially in terms of significant disparities that still exist between the rich and poor.”

Under white segregationist rule, black South Africans were disadvantaged by poor education that confined many to unskilled, low-paying jobs. Zuma’s African National Congress has struggled to rectify the inequality gap since coming to power in 1994 even as it boosted access to electricity and water.

South Africa’s population increased 16 percent since the last census was conducted in 2001 and compares with 50.6 million estimated in mid-2011, the statistics agency said. About 9 percent of the population is of mixed race, 8.9 percent white and 2.5 percent Asian, it said.

Incomes for white households increased 88 percent to 365,134 rand in the past decade, the data shows.

AIDS Orphans

Population growth and life expectancy have been curbed by one of the world’s worst AIDS epidemics. About one in nine people in South Africa are infected with HIV, the virus that causes the disease, according to the government. The census found 3.37 million children under the age of 17, or 19 percent of the total, had lost one or both parents, with AIDS cited as a major contributor.

Sixty-six percent of the population are between 15 and 64 years old, and 29 percent are younger than 15.

Gauteng province, which includes Johannesburg and Pretoria, has a population of 12.3 million people, overtaking eastern KwaZulu-Natal province, where 10.3 million people live, as the most populous province.

South Africa has 14.45 million households, 78 percent of which are formal dwellings, the census shows. About 85 percent of households have electric lighting, up from 51 percent in 2001, while 91 percent have access to piped water, up from 85 percent. Just 35 percent of households have Internet access.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mike Cohen in Cape Town at mcohen21@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nasreen Seria at nseria@bloomberg.net

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