These 3 graphs show how South Africa’s wealth distribution has changed since apartheid

The World Wealth and Income Database has updated South Africa’s profile, providing a clearer picture of the country’s wealth and income inequality between 1960 and 2015.

The online data sets use national accounts, survey data, fiscal data and wealth rankings, and were created by economists Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and a team of more than 100 researchers from 70 countries, in an effort to illustrate the widening gap between the rich and the poor in large economies.

The new inequality data showed that top income shares have increased in nearly all countries over the last 60 years in both developing and developed nations alike.

However, South Africa was revealed as one of the countries with one of the worst wealth distribution rates, with the share of wealth held by the top 1% of earners doubling since the late seventies – from about 10% then, to almost 20% today.


Top 1% of earners hold 19% of total wealth

This graph represents how much South Africa’s top 1% of earners contributed to the total annual income earned in their respective years.

The graph shows that South Africa’s richest people have increasingly held a bigger and bigger portion of total wealth since the dawn of democracy in the country.


Top 10% of earners hold 65% of total wealth

This graph represents how much South Africa’s top 10% of earners contributed to the total annual income earned in their respective years.

As with the graph above, it shows a clear trend of the top 10% of South African earners increasingly hold a majority of the country’s wealth. In this case, it shows that 10% of South Africa’s population holds 65% of the country’s wealth.



The average annual income in South Africa is around R122,000 

The final graph shows the average salary in the country, adjusted to 2015 prices.

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