Every working person in South Africa supports themselves and an average of three people, the SA Institute of Race Relations said on Monday.

A survey conducted by SAIRR showed that the general dependency had dropped among South Africans in the past 15 years, however Africans remained the racial group with the highest dependent average.

“Dependency among Africans has come down significantly from a high of nearly six people depending on every employed person in 1997 to just over three in 2012.”

“Nevertheless, with high levels of unemployment ...dependency (of Africans) on the employed is still much higher than for other races,” said Lucy Holborn, research manager at the institute.

The report, to be released next week showed that in 1994 there were 3.8 people dependent on every employed person, a figure which had fallen to 2.8 by 2012.

These figures included those officially unemployed, those who choose not to work, and those too young or old to work.

Holborn said there were significant racial discrepancies in levels of dependency.

Among the African population there were 3.2 people dependent on every employed person, among coloured people 2.1, among Indians 1.7, and among white South Africans 1.4.

She said given that median monthly earnings for Africans were about a third of what they are for whites, and that Africans on average supported more non-working dependants, it was not surprising that the country was witnessing strikes for higher wages.

“However, the demanded wage increases are unlikely to significantly dent the poverty and poor living conditions...”

“Therefore, while higher wages may ease frustrations in the short term, fuller employment is the only long-term solution to poverty and poor living conditions,” said Holborn. - Sapa