The Gauteng City-Region Observatory (GCRO) has released a new report identifying which areas in Gauteng have residents living with debt.
The report is based on findings from the recent GCRO Quality of Life (QoL) survey, which asked respondents whether they personally owed money to anyone else (including a bank, shop, or money lender) and if they had missed a debt repayment in the three months before the interview.
The data showed that the proportion of respondents with debt increased from 26% in 2011 to 40% in 2015/16 – before declining to 35% in the 2017/18 QoL survey.
In addition, 44% of respondents with debt said they had missed a debt repayment in the three months before the interview.
“Although at least a quarter of respondents in recent QoL surveys said they owed money, debt is unevenly distributed across race, income and age groups. and might not be an inherent burden for everyone,” the GCRO said.
“The data shows that respondents from households with lower incomes were less likely to have debt than respondents from households with higher incomes, but more likely to have missed a debt repayment in the three months before the interview.”
About 64% of respondents from households with an income of less than R1,600 per month have missed a debt repayment compared to 21% of respondents from households with an income of R51,201 and more per month.
There is also an uneven distribution of the debt burden between age groups.
“For example, 18% of respondents aged between 18 and 24 years have debt, compared to 44% of respondents aged between 35 and 44 years and 27% of respondents aged more than 55 years.
“Depending on the nature of debt – that is, whether it is incurred either to acquire an asset or service that appreciates or to fund short-term consumption – people’s social mobility is likely to be affected at various points differently in their life cycle,” the report said.
Debt across Gauteng
The below maps show how debt is distributed across various wards in Gauteng.
Map 1 shows the proportion of respondents in each ward with debt, the GCRO said.
The proportion of respondents per ward with debt ranges from a minimum of 8.8% to a maximum of 70.9%.
“In wealthier wards in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg (around Bryanston), or the south-eastern suburbs of Tshwane (around Centurion), the proportion of respondents with debt typically exceeds 46%.
“However, it should be noted that there are a few poorer places where the proportion of respondents with debt reaches this level: Tsakane, for instance, a relatively poor township area near Springs, has 47% of respondents in debt.
“In some wards north of Vanderbijlpark, around Carletonville and in a township like Soweto less than 30% of respondents have debt,” it said.
The GCRO said that a contrasting picture emerges when respondents with debt were asked whether they had missed a debt repayment in the three months before the interview.
“Whilst there was a higher proportion of respondents with debt in the wards in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg (around Bryanston) and the south-eastern suburbs of Tshwane (around Centurion) in Map 1, these parts of the province have much lower proportions of respondents who had missed a debt repayment (as seen in Map 2),” it said.
“Meanwhile, areas such as Soshanguve, Mamelodi, Soweto and Ratanda near Heidelberg have higher proportions (more than 51%) of respondents with debt who had missed a debt repayment.
“In a township like Tsakane, it is evident that a high proportion of respondents have debt (47%) and a high proportion of them have missed a debt repayment (71%). While this pattern of debt burden is evident, we cannot infer from this analysis that residents in these areas will default if financial institutions offer loans to them.”