New Study: Decent Life In SA Costs R8 000 A Month

A new study has found that there are 34 things a person needs in South Africa at a cost of just under R8 000 a month to enjoy a decent standard of living.

This week the 6th Annual Decent Standard of Living Colloquium said it has found 34 “socially perceived necessities” considered as needs by most South Africans.

The Decent Standard of Living Measure, first piloted in 2006, was conducted telephonically among a representative sample in five South African provinces throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

It determined that South Africans across a spectrum of socio-economic backgrounds viewed 21 socially perceived necessities as a benchmark for a decent standard of living.

These socially perceived necessities range from a free-standing home that is strong enough to withstand the weather to access to a cellphone and supermarket in their neighbourhood.

The cost of these socially perceived necessities was calculated at R7 911 for each person – a far cry from the basic income grant or the Covid-19 relief offered by the state.

Presently, the social relief grant during the Covid-189 pandemic is R350 per month for unemployed persons.

Nearly half of South Africa’s 60 million population lives in poverty.

Stats SA recently revealed that more than 46% of young people under the age of 34 – and a staggering 63% of those under 24 – are jobless.

Proposals are under discussion for a permanent basic income grant.

The monthly amount of R7 911 per person to enjoy a decent standard of living was worked out by research partners Studies in Poverty and Inequality Institute, Labour Research Service, and Southern African Social Policy Research Insights.

“South Africa is a deeply unequal society, with half of its population living below the poverty line,” said Dr. Nqobile Zulu, Research Manager at Studies in Poverty and Inequality Institute.

“Yet, despite these inequalities and high levels of poverty, most South Africans are clear on what the bare minimum is to achieve a decent life.

“We are also the most unemployed nation in the world, with many of the working-age population, particularly women and youth, experiencing some form of long-term unemployment.

Dr. Zulu said this means that a more radical economic intervention was needed from the government to achieve the constitutional ambition of the right to dignity.

“We hope that the results of the study will be used to inform policy formulation in the fight against poverty and that stakeholders from all spheres will focus efforts on bridging the gap between the haves and have-nots,” said Dr. Zulu.

“South Africa needs focused investment, particularly in communities that are left on the periphery to enable greater cohesion and equality.”

For the full list of 34 socially perceived necessities check out the Studies in Poverty and Inequality website here: