Exploring income variations across traditional authorities in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

by Robert Klitgaard, Amanda Fitschen

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To understand income inequality and poverty, one must go beyond the important and much-studied differences between rural and urban living and investigate inequalities within rural areas. Using new South African data aggregated by "traditional authorities", this article examines variations in per capita income across poor, rural, mostly black areas of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province. The inequalities are significant. In explaining them, the article examines the importance of such variables as education, proportion of females in the resident population, population density, soil quality and rainfall. A geographical information system is used to map both the raw data and the residuals from a regression analysis, and this combination of statistical and geographical analyses yields new insights. Finally, the article suggests how these techniques might be supplemented by qualitative and quantitative studies of "overachieving" and "underachieving" traditional authorities -- those whose incomes per capita are well above or below what regression equations would predict.

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Originally published in: Development Southern Africa, v. 14, no. 3, October 1997, pp. 363-376.

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