Bottom 90% of South Africans Control Just 15% of Wealth In The Country, Study Finds


South Africa is one of the most unequal countries in the world in terms of wealth, according to a paper by 3 students at Wits University’s Southern Centre for Inequality Studies, Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium, and World Inequality Lab based at the Paris School of Economics.

Their paper showed that wealth inequality in South Africa not only greatly exceeds income inequality, but has not declined since 1994, with just 3,500 people – 0.01% of the population – own 15% of total wealth in South Africa, according to a new study. And, there has been no decrease in wealth inequality since democracy.

The preliminary findings show a steep pyramid of wealth:

  • The top 10% (3.5 million people) control 86% of all wealth
  • The top 1% (350,000 people) control 55% of all wealth
  • The top 0.1% (35,000 people) control 29% of all wealth
  • The top 0.01% (3,540 people) control 15% of all wealth
  • The bottom 90% (31,8 million people) control 14% of all wealth

By contrast, due to their debt, the bottom 50%, or 17.7 million people, have an average negative net wealth of -R16,000.

The World Inequality Database tracks inequality measures, including wealth, using standardized methods across a growing number of countries. South Africa has by far the most unequal distribution of wealth, with the USA a distant second.


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