Poverty is one of the most challenging socio-economic problems in South Africa. Though poverty rates have been substantially reduced in the post-apartheid period, many South Africans remain poor. Available evidence also indicates a substantial gender gradient to the prevalence of poverty in the country. A standard indicator of gendered power structures is the gender of the household head. We examine the effect of transitioning from a male- to a female-headed household over time (relative to remaining in a male-headed household) on changes in the probability of transitioning into poverty from a non-poor state over a two- to six-year period. This type of longitudinal analysis is largely lacking in South Africa, where most previous studies have largely focused on cross-sectional and repeated cross-sectional analyses. The results indicate that transitioning from a male- to female-headed household is associated with an increase in the probability of falling into poverty from a previous non-poor state. The results hold true across all poverty lines and also indicate that the effect of gender-based transitions is not significant in the short term (i.e. for the one-period transitions), but over more persistent transitions.

Author Biography

Dr Chijioke Nwosu is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Economic Performance and Development (EPD) programme. He holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Cape Town. Prior to joining the HSRC, he was a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Economics, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University, Atlanta. In the course of his graduate education, he won a number of academic grants/scholarships including the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency Graduate Scholarship, the Carnegie Fellowship for Doctoral Study, and the African Economic Research Consortium Doctoral Thesis Grant. Dr Nwosu is a development economist. Specifically, his research interests are in the areas of health and labour market outcomes, health care financing in developing countries, and the relationship between gender and poverty in developing countries. He has published a number of peer-reviewed journal articles and working papers and has presented papers at numerous local and international academic conferences.

Dr. Catherine Ndinda is a Chief Research Specialist in Economic Performance and Development unit of the Human Science Research Council, Pretoria, South Africa. She is an affiliate of Development Studies, University of South Africa (UNISA). She holds PhD in Social Science and MSc in Urban and Regional Planning (Development) both from Natal University. She has been a principal investigator in national and provincial studies on monitoring and evaluation in South Africa. In 2014 she was the principal investigator in the national study Baseline assessment for the future impact evaluation of informal settlements targeted for upgrading, which was also presented the UN Habitat III Conference in Quito, Ecuador. She has collaborated in multi-country studies covering at least six African countries (Kenya, Malawi, Cameroun, Togo, Nigeria and South Africa). Her research focus is on policy analysis, monitoring and evaluation (design assessment, baseline assessments and impact evaluations), human settlements, gender studies. Her current research focus is on post-apartheid housing policy and practice. She is currently the principal investigator in a synthesis evaluation: An evaluation of interventions by the Department of Human Settlements in facilitating access to the city for poor households. She has published widely in the field of gender studies.