Rethinking the South African Welfare State

Currently there are calls in South Africa for the introduction of a Universal Basic Income Grant to replace or to, at least, supplement existing welfare provisions. The current system of grants definitely requires a rethink. It is premised on two, deeply flawed assumptions: 1) that unemployment in South Africa is for most people a temporary condition and 2) that household breadwinners are largely men. Under conditions of mass, structural unemployment, however, the current system makes provisions, in effect, for pensioners and for mothers of young children, but largely excludes young Black men, condemning them to both economic precarity and to the social margins.

The NSI is involved in ongoing studies of the welfare regime in South Africa, drawing on international, comparative experiences to reform the current system to provide more inclusive coverage that is also institutionally efficient and affordable.

Project team