The World Inequality Database has updated its wealth data for South Africa and other nations – with a tool that lets you calculate how wealthy you are relative to other people in the country.
The database was built by an international network of more than 100 academics, including Thomas Piketty and Nobel Prize winner Abhijit Banerjee, which makes it possible to compare income inequality in 173 countries.
The estimates are based on a mix of sources, including tax data, surveys, and national and other statistics.
Launched in 2011, the database was recently expanded to add dozens of nations, bringing total coverage to 97% of the world’s population.
The database also includes a simulator that allows you to compare your household income to other South Africans. You can access the tool here.
Earning the average formal sector salary in South Africa of R22,579 (QES, 3Q20) would put you in the richest 13% of earners in the country, according to the simulator.
The monthly salary you would need to be a top 1% earner, meanwhile, is around R141,000, the data shows.
Bloomberg reported that the the new data gives a richer picture of how inequality varies among countries.
Globalisation and other trends have inflated the top 1%’s share of the pie in most places, including Peru and India – but in Austria, Vietnam, and elsewhere, government policies and trends such as a growing middle class have kept inequality in check.
There are now 53 countries that the database rates as having higher-quality estimates – including South Africa. Over the last two decades, South Africa’s richest 1% increased their share of income in the country by around four percentage points, the data showed.
However, it should be noted that the latest numbers are from 2019, so it does not cover the impact of more recent events such as the Covid-19 pandemic, soaring stock markets, and unprecedented fiscal and monetary stimulus on income gaps, Bloomberg said.
South Africa’s 1%
Global property consultancy group Knight Frank published its 2021 Wealth Report, showing how many dollar millionaires are in South Africa – and how many are considered multi-millionaires.
According to the report, as of December 2020 there are 44,605 dollar millionaires living in the country, down from 52,109 recorded in 2019, but the group anticipates that millionaires will grow in number again by 2025 – hitting around 63,400.
In terms of multi-millionaires – individuals with a net worth over $30 million (R436 million) – South Africa has also seen a decline, with Knight Frank recording 742 individuals at the end of 2020, down from 768 the year before.
Knight Frank looked specifically at the “frequently cited, sometimes maligned” one-percenters – the top earning, or wealthiest individuals in the world. It categorised the one-percent according to net wealth: assets less liabilities.
The group noted that level of net wealth that marks the threshold for entering this exclusive community varies widely among different countries and territories. Interestingly it falls far short of the definition of a UHNWI ($30 million+) who are often associated with the grouping.
In South Africa to be a part of the 1%, and individual would need to have a net worth $180,000 (R2.6 million), the group said.