Deserving and undeserving poor: Assessments of claims made on kin and state in Cape Town, South Africa

7 May, 2013 -
13:00 to 14:00
Professor Jeremy Seekings
CSSR Seminar Room,Leslie Social Science,Room 4.29 Upper Campus.
Abstract / Description: 

The distinction between the deserving and undeserving poor is fundamental to the design of most welfare states. Similarly, private individuals typically discriminate in who they do and do not support, for example supporting close kin more than distant kin. This paper examines how young South Africans distinguish between deserving and undeserving claimants on both the state and kin. Data are from survey experiments using vignettes included in the fifth wave of the Cape Area Panel Study (2009). I show that there are clear and generally intuitive hierarchies of desert with respect to both public and private welfare. I examine how these are affected by the characteristics of the respondent, and the efficacy of attempts to persuade respondents to change their minds. Finally, I examine the relationship between the perceived hierarchy of desert with respect to public welfare and the perceived hierarchy with respect to private welfare.

A History of the Surplus People: Resettlement and the Making of the Ciskei, South Africa, c.1960- 1976

30 April, 2013 -
13:00 to 14:00
Laura Evans
CSSR Seminar Room,Leslie Social Science Building,4.29
Abstract / Description: 

The extent of urban segregation, widespread poverty and the proliferation of shack settlements are striking images for any observer of contemporary South Africa. But beyond the country’s city spaces, which share some similarities with others in the global South, the ubiquitous and sprawling rural settlements of dislocated ‘urban’ poverty are perhaps the most sobering and defining features of the post-apartheid landscape. Sada and Ilinge, located at the northern extremity of the former Ciskei Bantustan, in the Eastern Cape, are two such places (fig. 1). Established in the early 1960s, these rural resettlement sites grew rapidly in the following two decades, as the apartheid government restricted new housing development to basic provision in the rural and impoverished Bantustans. Families and communities resident in small towns across the Cape were brutally removed, very often at gunpoint, and transported like cattle to barren, isolated and inhospitable sites where they were greeted by little more than a single tent for a family. Farm tenants were also relocated in this way. The minimal provision of prefabricated housing was blithely advertised to farm dwellers looking to escape farms for alternative accommodation, sold as a promised land of ‘milk and honey’ by officials wishing to expedite their removal from residences on white-owned farms. The rapidity of such resettlements, the mass uprooting of people with already-marginal livelihoods and the poor provision of housing and infrastructure in the new resettlement sites precipitated a major humanitarian crisis. Food rations provided were barely enough to prevent starvation. Widespread infant mortality and the ubiquitous presence of malnutrition and related diseases were reported in shocking press accounts of these areas, which quickly became known in critical discourse as the ‘dumping grounds’ of apartheid.

This presentation will lay out some of the key findings of my study of the experiences engendered by mass resettlement in the northern Ciskei in the period 1960- 1976. Social inequalities of class, gender and generation shaped a diverse range of experiences and the subjective meanings that individuals attached to their resettlement. Housing shortages, deep poverty, unemployment and widespread reliance on the wages of young migrant men were crucial dynamics in the making of power and the hegemonic projects of new Tribal Authorities in the self-governing Ciskei.



GroundUp thrives

GroundUp - the community media project involving a collaboration between the CSSR, the Community Media Trust and social movements - is thriving. See In March, two CSSR students edited 'special issues' of GroundUp: Kezia Lilenstein edited a special issue on labour market issues, and Gabby Kelly eidted a special issue on social grants. Kezia's masters dissertation is on the labour market, and Gabby's is on the disability grant. In this week's issue, a third CSSR-based student, Amanda Purtell, reports on her recent trip to deep rural Mozambique, to find and reinterview two sisters who were recently deported to Mozambique by the South African Department of Home Affairs. The sisters came to Cape Town in 2004. Their father was abusive, and in 2007 they were placed in a registered care facility.

The Karoo Predator Project

2 April, 2013 - 13:00
Marine Drouilly
CSSR seminar room, Leslie Social Science 4.29
Abstract / Description: 
Marine Drouilly will give a presentation on the "The Karoo Predator Project - Carnivore and biodiversity research on Karoo farmlands". Marine is a PhD student in the Department of Biological Sciences, and is working with Beatrice Conradie, Nicoli Nattrass and other CSSR researchers on the sheep-farming industry in the Karoo, focusing on farmers' attempts to manage jackals and other predators that farmers identify as the primary challenge facing the industry. Marine has been running large numbers of wildlife cameras to monitor the diversity of wildlife in the north-east part of the district of Laingsburg.
We hope to have lunch available from about 12h30.

Implications of Social Networks for Voting Behaviour: Survey Evidence from South Africa

19 March, 2013 -
13:00 to 14:00
Collette Schulz Herzenberg
Room 4.29 Leslie Social Science Building
Abstract / Description: 

<P>In South Africa’s highly divided society voters live in politically homogenous social environments. As a result, many voters are likely to reside in homogenous political information networks where their partisan identities reflect widely among their personal discussants. This paper argues that political discussion within social networks plays a primary role in shaping political attitudes and vote choice. Moreover, the extent of partisan homogeneity or heterogeneity within interpersonal discussant networks has important, yet distinct implications for voting behaviour. Using the 2004 and 2009 post elections surveys the research examines distributions of politically homogenous versus heterogeneous networks in South Africa and finds that network types are fairly evenly distributed and voters are not overly embedded in either network type. The research also demonstrates the consequences of the different network types on voting behavior by showing that homogenous discussion networks tend to encourage greater participation at the polls but also less defections and far greater consistency in vote choice. The analysis also shows how momentous socio-political events at the time of a particular election can change the nature of social networks, with consequences for electoral outcomes.</P>

Assessing Demand for Green Electricity Products amongst Western

12 March, 2013 -
13:00 to 14:00
Chris Harrison
Room 4.29 Leslie Social Science Building,UCT
Abstract / Description: 

South Africa is currently undertaking investments in electricity generation infrastructure on an unprecedented scale. The total discounted cost of the investment scenarios outlined in the Integrated Resource Plan 2010-30 range from R700 billion to R1.2trillion. Investments on this scale must be guided by a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis procedure. Since existing markets for electricity provide no information regarding consumer preferences across generation technologies, the inclusion of several benefits relevant to the choice between rival technologies requires the use of non-market valuation techniques. Towards this end, a contingent valuation study was conducted in April-May 2012, seeking to estimate the aggregate willingness to pay for green electricity products amongst upper-middle income Western Cape households, as well as to examine the characteristics of likely adopters. The survey found nearly 80% of respondent households to have some positive WTP for green electricity, as indicated by their agreement to sign up for a premium-priced green electricity product. However, many respondents indicated low confidence in these commitments. Econometric analysis of the hypothetical market responses produced an upper-bound mean WTP estimate of R227 per upper-middle income household per month, whilst a more conservative lower-bound model produced a mean monthly WTP of R68 per UMI household. These correspond to aggregate WTP values of R105 million and R31.2 million per month respectively. Characteristics found to be statistically significant positive predictors of WTP for green electricity are: household income; awareness of, and concern related to anthropogenic climate change; positive perceptions of renewable energy technologies as sources of electricity; and solar geyser ownership. Factors found to be statistically significant negative predictors of green electricity are; respondent age; respondent education; and, positive perceptions of nuclear energy.

Controversy over clothing industry

In an unusual turn of events, the SA Clothing and Textile Workers Union (SACTWU) marched on the University of Cape Town on the first of March to protest against the continuing analysis of the crisis in the clothing sector by Nicoli Nattrass and Jeremy Seekings. Is this a reasonable example of free speech or a crude attempt at intimidation? SACTWU has regrettably declined several invitations to participate in a reasoned discussion of the issues, and has resorted to spin and misrepresentation in a series of public statements. Nicoli Nattrass and Jeremy Seekings have responded to SACTWU here and to General Secretary Andre Kriel in an Open Letter, available here.

Photo by Raymond Botha (The Monday Paper).


  • Profs Nattrass and Seekings's Open Letter to André Kriel (28 Feb 2013)
  • SACTWU Memorandum (1 March 2013)
  • Profs Nattrass and Seekings's Response to SACTWU (7 March 2013)
  • the entire debate between SACTWU, Nattrass/Seekings and others, between January and April 2013

Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem): Global Standards, Local Knowledge

8 March, 2013 -
13:00 to 14:30
Staffan I. Lindberg
Room 4.29, Leslie Social Science Building
Abstract / Description: 

This seminar will be presented by Professor Staffan I. Lindberg, Principal Investigator, V-Dem, Associate Professor, Dept. of Political Science, University of Gothenburg & University of Florida, Research Fellow, Quality of Government Institute, Snr Adviser, International Law and Policy Institute.


The study of democracy and democratization lies at the center of political science and is increasingly important in economics, sociology, and history. In the post-Cold War world, democracy has also become a central foreign policy objective. Yet, there is little conclusive evidence about why some countries become and remain democratic and others do not. The Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Research Program sets out to provide the first comprehensive theory of democratization, that also accounts for the multiple core principles and values in the varieties of democracy in the world today.: electoral, liberal, majoritarian, consensual, participatory, deliberative, and egalitarian democracy. V-Dem also breaks down each core principle index into its constituent components, about 50 of them measured separately. Each component is comprised of several carefully chosen indicators, a total of 329 , measuring the quality of democracy across core institutions of democracies including elections, civil liberties, the judiciary, the executive, the legislature, political parties, gender, media, and civil society. The V-Dem Database will contain data on these for all countries of the world, annually from 1900 to the present including pre-independence eras. Being the first to use this unique database and by bringing together a research team consisting of leading democratization-scholars in the world, each with their unique set of expertise and area-competence, we aim to provide cutting-edge, systematic and theoretically revolutionizing examination of democratization. This research program is a collaboration between leading scholars from the Universities of Gothenburg, Lund, Stockholm, Notre Dame, Boston, Aarhus, Florida, Emory, Harvard, Berkeley, Michigan, Oslo, Case Western, Colorado, and the Catholic University of Chile, as well as scholars from 24 regional universities across the world.



Fat tales of South Africa’s income distribution

5 March, 2013 - 13:00
Martin Wittenberg
Room 4.29, Leslie Social Science Building
Abstract / Description: 

I investigate labour earnings in the top tail (± top 12%) of the South African income distribution from 1995 to 2007, using a new harmonised data set constructed from the OHSs and LFSs (Kerr et al 2011). Nonparametric techniques suggest that the distribution is well approximated by a Pareto distribution. Surprisingly, this distribution seems to have been remarkably stable over the entire period. Parametric estimates suggest that the tail parameter is around 1.8, which suggests that the distribution is “fat tailed”. This implies that extreme outcomes are more common than with the standard “normal” distribution. I discuss some of the implications of such fat tails for the way we think about inequality.

CSSR/Afrobarometer Summer School

Photo by Raymond Botha ([The Monday Paper](

Thirty young researchers from across Africa joined with UCT students in the first of the new intensive CSSR/Afrobarometer Summer Schools in January 2013. Participants took either an introductory or an advanced course in social statistics, together with courses focused on specific topics in the study of politics and policy-making in Africa. Participants were required to complete a mini research project and to present this on the final day of the School. Classes were taught by CSSR academics Profs Bob Mattes, Jeremy Seekings and Rajen Govender, and Dr Pedro Wolf, with additional help from Dr Eduard Grebe and Erica Penfold. Outside lecturers included Prof Joel Barkan, and Drs Danielle Resnick and Boniface Dulani. Participation in the School was funded by the Afrobarometer network and the UCT Vice-Chancellor's Strategic Fund.

Wage Setting in the South African Clothing Industry

19 February, 2013 - 13:00
Nicoli Nattrass and Jeremy Seekings
CSSR seminar room, Leslie Social Science 4.29
Abstract / Description: 

Minimum wages in the South African clothing industry are set by mostly metro-based capital-intensive employers and organised labour in the National Bargaining Council for the Clothing Manufacturing Industry (NBC). These wages are routinely extended by the Minister of Labour to cover all firms. Firms that do not comply with the agreement are pursued through the courts and eventually shut down by the NBC. We have argued elsewhere that this has been harmful for labour-intensive growth. In this seminar, we summarise the argument briefly and then discuss recent wage-setting agreements that seek to reduce wage pressure on firms and job losses in non-compliant firms in South Africa.

Debating job destruction in the clothing industry

Research by Nicoli Nattrass and Jeremy Seekings (published as CSSR WP323 as well as by the Centre for Development and Enterprise) has been making waves. This week there was extensive coverage in Business Day and the Financial Mail. Business Day has a short video on the issue, and Nicoli Nattrass's talk on Tuesday 29 January. There was extensive debate on Cape Talk, prompted by an interview with Nicoli by John Maytham (listen to the 9-minute podcast on Scroll down through the Daily Audio Highlights until you get to "Prof Nicoli Nattrass - Wage Determinations").

Job destruction!

Nicoli Nattrass spoke at a press conference in Johannesburg today on new research on job destruction in South Africa's clothing industry. This week the High Court is hearing a case brought against the Minister of Labour and the National Bargaining Council for the Clothing Manufacturing Industry, by a group of employers in Newcastle, KZN, contesting the legality of aspects of South Africa's minimum wage-setting mechanisms. Also this week, writs of execution are due to be served on hundreds of factories that are not compliant with minimum wages, closing them down and putting thousands of workers out of work. A working paper on the current crisis in the clothing industry by Nicoli Nattrass and Jeremy Seekings is available through the CSSR and the Johannesburg-based Centre for Development and Enterprise.