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No data shows one million white people living in poverty in South Africa

“I hope that this will open not only your eyes, but also your hearts!” says a tweet from 2 July 2019. It claims that 1 million white people in South Africa “live in extreme poverty”. 

But the tweet’s statistics are incorrect, according to the most recent data on poverty in South Africa.



Three poverty lines


South Africa has three poverty lines, which “capture different degrees of poverty and allow the country to measure and monitor poverty at different levels”. 

This is according to Statistics South Africa, the national statistical agency. Stats SA uses data on the money people spend to calculate the number of people living in poverty.

In 2015, the upper-bound poverty line – the highest measure – was set at R992 a month. A person who spent less than that each month was considered to be living in poverty. 

Based on this, an estimated 30.4 million people in South Africa lived in poverty. This was equal to 55.5% of the population. 

Fewer than 50,000 white people in poverty


A racial breakdown of the data does not show that a million white people live in poverty. In fact, the estimate is magnitudes lower at 47,494. This represents just 1% of the white population.



People living in poverty in South Africa by population group (2015)
Population groupNumber% of population group
African/Black28,267,53064.2%
Coloured1,989,30441.3%
Indian/Asian79,4605.9%
White47,4941%
South Africa30,383,78855.5%

Source: Statistics South Africa’s Poverty Trends in South Africa (2015)

In comparison, 64.2% of the black population and 41.3% of the coloured population live in poverty. – Africa Check




 

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