According to the researchers there are 34 socially perceived necessities (SPN) defined as needs to achieve a dignified life for all. The cost of these 34 SPNs is R7 911 per person. File picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)
According to the researchers there are 34 socially perceived necessities (SPN) defined as needs to achieve a dignified life for all. The cost of these 34 SPNs is R7 911 per person. File picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

This is how much a decent standard of living costs in SA

By Yasmine Jacobs Time of article published Oct 13, 2021

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South Africans need a monthly income of R7 911 to have a decent standard of living.

This is according to research partners from the Studies in Poverty and Inequality Institute (SPII), Labour Research Service (LRS) and Southern African Social Policy Research Insights (SASPRI).

A new launch at the 6th Annual Decent Standard of Living Colloquium showed that there are 34 socially perceived necessities (SPN) defined as needs to achieve a dignified life for all. The cost of these 34 SPNs is R7 911 per person.

If you have all this, you have a decent standard of living:

  1. Mains electricity in the house.
  2. Someone to look after you if you are very ill.
  3. A house that is strong enough to stand up to the weather, for example rain, winds, etc.
  4. Street lighting.
  5. A fridge.
  6. Clothing sufficient to keep you warm and dry.
  7. For parents or other carers to be able to buy complete school uniform for children without hardship.
  8. A flush toilet in the house.
  9. Paid employment for people of working age.
  10. Somewhere for children to play safely outside of the house.
  11. A cellphone.
  12. People who are sick are able to afford all medicines prescribed by their doctor.
  13. Having police on the streets in the local area.
  14. Separate bedrooms for adults and children.
  15. A neighbourhood without rubbish in the streets.
  16. Having an adult from the household at home at all times when children under 10 from the household are at home.
  17. A fence or wall around the property.
  18. Someone to transport you in a vehicle if you needed to travel in an emergency.
  19. Burglar bars in the house.
  20. Ability to pay or contribute to funerals/ funeral insurance/ burial society.
  21. Being able to visit friends and family in hospital and other institutions.
  22. Tarred roads close to the house.
  23. Regular savings for emergencies.
  24. A place of worship (church/mosque/synagogue) in the local area.
  25. A large supermarket in the local area.
  26. A bath or shower in the house.
  27. Someone to talk to if you are feeling upset or depressed.
  28. A neighbourhood without smoke or smog in the air.
  29. Television/TV.
  30. Someone to lend you money in an emergency.
  31. A sofa/lounge suite.
  32. Meat or fish or vegetarian equivalent every day.
  33. A radio.
  34. A lock-up garage for vehicles.

“South Africa is a deeply unequal society, with half of its population living below the poverty line. Yet, despite these inequalities and high levels of poverty, most South Africans are clear on what the bare minimum is to achieve a decent life,” said Dr Nqobile Zulu, research manager at the SPII.

“We are also the most unemployed nation in the world, with many of the working-age population, particularly women and youth, experiencing some form of long-term unemployment. This means that we need more radical economic intervention from our government if we are ever to achieve our constitutional ambition of the right to dignity,” added Zulu.

“We hope that the results of the study will be used to inform policy formulation in the fight against poverty and that stakeholders from all spheres will focus efforts on bridging the gap between the haves and have-nots. South Africa needs focused investment, particularly in communities that are left on the periphery to enable greater cohesion and equality.”

How does it compare to previous years?

In 2018, the decent standard of living amount was R7 043 per person per month, according to the SPII. In 2020, this amount increased to R7 541 per person per month.

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