South Africa, the most unequal country in the world – report

Members of the anti-foreigner movement called “Operation Dudula” gather outside a supermarket where foreigners were allegedly employed during a xenophobic rally in Orange Grove in Johannesburg on February 13, 2022. AFP

JOHANNESBURG — South Africa is the most unequal country in the world, with race playing a huge role in a society where 10% of the population own more than 80% of the wealth, a World Bank report said on Wednesday.

“South Africa…is the most unequal country in the world, ranking first out of 164 countries,” the Washington-based institution said in a report titled “Inequality in Southern Africa.”

Almost thirty years after the end of apartheid, “race remains a key driver of strong inequalities in South Africa, due to its impact on education and the labor market”, he said.

When race is considered a factor in income disparities, the report adds, “its contribution to income inequality rises to 41%, while the contribution of education is reduced to 30%”.

“The legacy of colonialism and apartheid, rooted in racial and spatial segregation, continues to reinforce inequalities.”

The country’s neighbors that make up the rest of the Southern African Customs Union – Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho and Namibia – all top the list of the most unequal countries in the world.

Gender also plays an important role.

In the region, women earn on average 30% less than men at the same level of education.

The pay gap between men and women reaches 38% in Namibia and South Africa.

The unequal distribution of agricultural land is also a factor of inequality, especially in rural areas.

In Namibia, 70% of the 39.7 million hectares of commercial farmland “still belong to Namibians of European descent”, the World Bank said.

The report was produced before the Covid-19 pandemic and its authors used the Gini coefficient – an indicator of income inequality – to rank countries.


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