The non-economic quality of life on a sub-national level in South Africa
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Most research on the non-economic quality of life have been (a) on a national level or performed on cross-country comparisons, and/or (b) used subjective indicators to measure how people perceive their non-economic quality of life. In this paper, our main contribution is to construct objective indicators of the non-economic quality of life for 354 sub-national magisterial districts in South Africa. We also compare changes in these indicators over time, and consider methodological issues in the construction of objective indicators of non-economic quality of life. We find that although income does matter for the overall quality of life, non-income components of the quality of life can make an important difference. We find a number of places with low incomes that have been able to achieve higher than expected outcomes in terms of the non-economic quality of life, and that some of the relative income poor areas have improved their non-economic ranking between 1996 and 2004. We also find that the geographical/environmental quality of life in South Africa is better in non-urban areas, where fewer of the country’s population is residing. Significant improvements in the overall quality of life may be achieved through improvements in the urban natural environment.