Report shows South Africans have many reasons to be hopeful


A new report called Life in South Africa: Reasons for Hope from the Institute of Race Relations shows the country has come a long way since the 1980s and 1990s. Overall, lives have improved vastly, amid the challenges.

John Bostock
John Bostock, researcher at the Institute of Race Relations releases a report called Life in South Africa: Reasons for Hope on 8 November 2016 in Johannesburg. (Image: Priya Pitamber) (Image: Priya Pitamber)

South Africans are faring much better today compared to the 1980s and 1990s, revealed a report from the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) released on 8 November 2016 in Johannesburg.
Titled Life in South Africa: Reasons for Hope, it showed that lives of South Africans had improved economically and politically over the past two decades.

It acknowledges the challenges faced by the country, but also focuses on the strides made.

“But amidst the turmoil, IRR analysts see the story of a young democracy that has made a vast amount of progress in fields ranging from the economy and employment to living standards, poverty, education, healthcare and crime,” it reads.

IRR researcher John Bostock said it showed what has gone right since 1994. “Our society has normalised since 1994, to some extent,” he said. “It is important for the public to have perspective on the state of the country.

“We look at how we are doing ourselves, we start with ourselves and then we look at our neighbours and our friends. We need to separate our personal state with how the country as a whole is doing.”

The numbers

  • In 2015 real per capita GDP was 33% higher than in 1994.
  • Disposable income growth per capita increased from R23,686 in 1994 to R33,660 in 2015, an increase of 42%. “That’s very encouraging, I would say. It shows that people are better off,” Bostock said.
  • The total number of people with jobs has doubled from 7.9-million in 1994 to 15.6-million in 2015.
  • Access to formal housing has increased by 131.3% from 1996 to 2016. “That translates to 1,042 formal houses built every day,” reads the report. “When looking at informal housing, for every shack erected after 1994, approximately 10 formal houses have been built.”
  • University enrolment rates have increased by 281.4% from 211,756 in 1985 to 807,663 in 2014.
  • There’s been a decline in the number of new HIV infections from 646,806 in 1999 to 321,497 in 2015.
  • There’s been a 62.5% increase in healthcare professionals in the public sector between 2000 to 2015.
  • The murder rate has fallen by 49.3% since 1994.

The report concluded that life in South Africa was better today compared to 20 years ago.

“Good analyses of South Africa are those that are able to read the good with the bad and tolerate the apparent contradictions to reach conclusions that say: ‘Yes, we have problems, but we have also made remarkable progress that serves as a foundation upon which we can build a much better country.’

Click here to read the full report.

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