Sub-national differences in the quality of life in South Africa
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It is increasingly acknowledged that the proper objective of government efforts towards economic development should be aimed at improvements beyond simple measures of growth, poverty and inequality towards richer measures of human well-being. Herein, the economic and non-economic quality of life, as well as the quantity of life, becomes important indicators. Economists and other social planners therefore need to develop more meaningful indicators of the quality of life. Objective and subjective indicators of the quality of life can be distinguished. For various reasons, this thesis will focus on the search for more meaningful objective indicators of the quality of life. One of the most well known objective indicators of quality of life is the Human Development Index (HDI). There is, however, a growing dissatisfaction with the HDI. In this thesis, two recent methodological advances in the measurement of quality of life are applied and combined and, in particular, in the measurement of the non-economic quality of life, to the sub-national quality of life in South Africa. As such, this thesis’ contribution is twofold. First, it investigates the extent to which the quality of life differs within a developing country, as opposed to most studies that focus on either inter-country differences in quality of life, or studies that focus only on spatial inequalities within countries using a restricted set of measures such as per capita income or poverty rates and headcounts. Secondly, this thesis applies a recent methodology proposed by McGillivray (2005) to isolate the non-economic (non-monetary) quality of life in various composite indices and to focus on the non-economic quality of life across 351 South African magisterial districts Indices for the non-economic quality of life are compiled for geographical quality, for demographic quality, and based on the human development index. Furthermore, given that composite indices used in the construction of measures of quality of life consist of weightings of multiple proxies, this thesis implements the method of Lubotsky and Wittenberg (2006) which proposed a new estimator for the case where multiple proxies are to be used for a single, unobserved variable such as quality of life. This thesis establishes that when the non-economic quality of life of the demographic index is considered, the top ten regions in 1001 were as follows: Pretoria, Johannesburg, Soweto, Port Elizabeth, Durban, Inanda, Pietermaritzburg, Wynberg, Mitchellsplain and Vanderbijlpark. It is important to note that, when interpreting these results, one should take caution since variables such as the number of people, number of households etc. is included in this index and as a region grows in population size the more negative consequences such as a higher crime rate can be associated with the particular region. The top ten regions in which to reside in 1004 as determined by the geography quality of life index were: Calvinia, Gordonia, Namaqualand, Kenhardt, Carnarvon, Ubombo, Williston, Hlabisa, Ceres and Ingwavuma. This geography index measures a region's natural beauty which, according to Wey (2000), contributes positively to one's perceived quality of life. Considering changes in non-economic quality of life indices between 1996 and 2004, the conclusion can he drawn that the South African government has been successful to a certain degree in addressing non-economic quality of life. Social policies such as health care, education, housing, water and sanitation appear to have had a positive effect on people's perceived non-economic quality of life in areas that were relatively deprived in 1996.