Monitoring Indicators of Living Conditions in a South African Urban Community
A social indicators community project was launched in 1999 to monitor changing living standards in Rhini, a low-income suburb of Grahamstown, Makana Municipality, South Africa. Since 1994, under democratic rule, considerable progress has been made in service delivery to the formerly disadvantaged in South African society in terms of access to housing, infrastructure, and a social safety net to mitigate the high rate of unemployment. Results from two representative cross-sectional household surveys (n862/n1,020) conducted in 1999 and 2007 in Rhini demonstrate major changes in material living standards. However, these increases are not reflected in assessments of the household situation. Results are discussed against the background of rising expectations and social policy under democracy. It is concluded that income and employment poverty might dilute gains from higher material living standards. Further research using panel-study data is needed to demonstrate the lasting effects of service delivery on perceived quality of life in South Africa.
KeywordsService delivery Standard of living Community quality of life Well-being Social progress
An earlier version of this chapter was presented at the First International Sociological Association Forum, ‘Sociological Research and Public Debate’, Barcelona, Spain, 5–8 September 2008, Working Group WG06 Social Indicators. Conference participation was made possible by a Rhodes University travel grant. The chapter is based on data from sample surveys supported by two grants from the South Africa-Netherlands Programme on Alternatives in Development (SANPAD) awarded in 1999 and 2006. Fieldwork for the 2007 survey was commissioned to Development Research Africa. While this sponsorship is gratefully acknowledged, views expressed are those of the authors and should not be attributed to others.
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