Social Indicators Research

, Volume 126, Issue 3, pp 987–1006 | Cite as

Gender and Multidimensional Poverty in South Africa: Applying the Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI)

  • Michael RoganEmail author


Recent work has shown that the gender gap in income poverty has widened in post-apartheid South Africa even though overall poverty levels have declined. One of the main criticisms of money-metric studies of gendered poverty differences is that income is only one dimension of poverty and that other measures of welfare may better reflect the relative well-being of women and female-headed households. This article presents a multidimensional approach to measuring the gender poverty gap in post-apartheid South Africa. Using data from the 2008 wave of the South African National Income Dynamic Study, the internationally comparable multidimensional poverty index (the MPI) is used to estimate gender differences in a number of different achievements. The findings suggest that the multidimensional gender poverty gap is similar to the poverty gap measured by the conventional money-metric approach at several national poverty lines. However, the MPI poverty differential between female- and male-headed households is slightly narrower than the income poverty gap between these two household types. In order to explore these findings further, the paper decomposes the components of multidimensional poverty by gender and for both female- and male-headed households. The paper concludes by considering how greater investments in health care delivery and in basic services, particularly in rural areas, may yield progress towards gender equality.


Gender Human poverty Capabilities Multidimensional poverty 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Social and Economic ResearchRhodes UniversityGrahamstownSouth Africa

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