Quality of Life in the Gauteng City-Region, South Africa


The core challenge facing South Africa after it became a democracy in 1994 was twofold: to meet the basic needs of (black) people denied these by apartheid, and simultaneously restoring dignity and undoing the psycho-social damage of racist white rule. This article analyses the first two in a planned long-term sequence of quality of life surveys in the Gauteng City-Region, the economic power-house of South Africa, with Johannesburg at its centre. The survey gathers data across multiple objective and subjective indicators. The key challenge is to try and understand the interplay between the two—and thus what impact, if any, meeting basic needs has on the psycho-social profile of residents of the city-region. The conclusion is that the impact is limited: objective indicators, which largely measure delivery of goods and services by government, drives the quality of life index up; but social, community and individuated indicators (such as anomie and alienation) pull scores down, and most particularly so for older, low educated black South Africans. The future may look positive for those born after apartheid; but for those who sacrificed their education in the struggle to topple the regime, the future looks like ‘more of the same’. Education emerges as the key asset that allows black South Africans to overcome the damage of apartheid; lack of (or low levels of) education do the reverse; this is true of both socio-economic advancement and social attitudes.

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    According to a recent South African Press Association release quoting police figures: "Gauteng police had dealt with 569 protest marches in the last 3 months, of which 122 were violent." (Quintal 2014).


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Correspondence to David Everatt.

Additional information

Executive Director, Gauteng City Region Observatory, a partnership between the University of Johannesburg, the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, the Gauteng Provincial Government and organised local government.

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Everatt, D. Quality of Life in the Gauteng City-Region, South Africa. Soc Indic Res 130, 71–86 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11205-015-1127-y

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  • South Africa
  • Gauteng City-Region
  • Quality of life
  • Race
  • Apartheid
  • Marginalisation