Social Protection, Economic Growth and Social Change

Social Protection, Economic Growth and Social Change

Goals, Issues and Trajectories in China, India, Brazil and South Africa

Edited by James Midgley and David Piachaud

This highly original and thought-provoking book examines the recent expansion of social protection in China, India, Brazil and South Africa – four countries experiencing rapid economic growth and social change.

Chapter 15: Social protection in South Africa – recent achievements and future prospects

John Kruger

Subjects: development studies, development economics, development studies, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, economics of social policy, social policy in emerging countries


The last decade has seen the strong extension of social assistance (and hence social protection) in South Africa. Nonetheless, poverty has remained very high and inequality has not decreased. While continued high levels of poverty and vulnerability may indicate a need for further expansion of the social protection system, there is a growing sense that other, more directly growth-focused, routes to poverty alleviation need to be found. The reference is often to the need for ‘productive investments’. For example, in its 2012 Budget Review, the National Treasury, under the heading ‘Shifting the composition of spending’, argues that ‘[o]ver the past decade, substantial increases in social service spending and social grant transfers have improved welfare and reduced poverty. In the period ahead, budgeting will give greater emphasis to infrastructure, employment and economic growth’.

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