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How many poor people are there in South Africa?

The global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) measures acute multidimensional poverty across more than 100 developing countries. It does so by measuring each person’s overlapping deprivations across 10 indicators in three equally weighted dimensions: health, education and standard of living. One deprivation alone may not represent poverty. The MPI requires a household to be deprived of multiple indicators at the same time. A person is multidimensionally poor if the weighted indicators in which he or she is deprived add up to at least 30%. The most recent survey data publicly available for South Africa’s MPI estimation refers to 2016. Based on these estimates, 6.3% of the population in South Africa (3.7 million people in 2020) is multidimensionally poor while an additional 12.2% is classified as vulnerable to multidimensional poverty (7.15 million people in 2020). The intensity of deprivations in South Africa, which is the average deprivation score among people living in multidimensional poverty, is 39.8%. The MPI value, which is the share of the population that is multidimensionally poor adjusted by the intensity of the deprivations, is 0.025. In comparison, Congo and Namibia have MPI values of 0.112 and 0.185, respectively.

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