The World Wealth and Income Database has updated its profile for South Africa, showing how the average salary in the country has changed since 1946, and up to 2017.
The online datasets use national accounts, survey data, fiscal data and wealth rankings, and were originally created by economists Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and a team of more than 100 researchers from 70 countries.
The latest update to the dataset brings salary changes over the last 70 years to 2017 into focus, as well as the share of GDP among adults.
At 2017 prices, the average South African earned R112,911 a year, while GDP share is at R136,249.
This effectively means that salary levels have settled around the same numbers seen in the late 1980s.
South Africa’s peak average was in 1974, where it reached over R129,000 a year – while the country’s GDP share peaked in 1980, when it reached R156,562.
According to data published by Stats SA in December 2018, South Africa’s average annual income in the formal non-agricultural sector is closer to R20,860 a month which is approximately R250,320 a year.
According to the World Wealth and Income Database’s 2018 Inequality Report, South Africa stands out as one of the most unequal countries in the world.
In 2014, the top 10% received two-thirds of national income, while the top 1% received 20% of national income.
“During the twentieth century, the top 1% income share was halved between 1914 and 1993, falling from 20% to 10%,” it said.
“Even if these numbers must be qualified, as they are surrounded by a number of uncertainties, the trajectory is similar to that of other former dominions of the British Empire, and is partly explained by the country’s economic and political instability during the 1970s and 1980s.”
“Since the end of the Apartheid in 1994, top-income shares have increased considerably. In spite of several reforms targeting the poorest and fighting the segregationist heritage, race is still a key determinant of differences in income levels, educational attainment, job opportunities and wealth.”