Household income is a measure often used by planners and economists in profiling areas to understand the context and ultimately to develop suitable planning responses, policies, etc. Household income as a measure consists of the combined incomes of all people sharing a particular household or place of residence. It includes every form of income, e.g., salaries and wages, and government transfers like grants, etc. The monetary well-being of a country's citizens can often be measured by using household income as an indicator. Mean or median net household income, after taxes and mandatory contributions, are good indicators of standard of living, because they include only disposable income and acknowledge that people sharing accommodation benefit from pooling at least some of their living costs. Read more..


This item considers the change in household income for the lowest income categories within sub-places between two periods; 1996 and 2011.

Insights & Findings

Considering the nine cities it can be observed that poverty has grown in or near to township areas. The expansion or settlement growth areas of townships often also reflect an increase in the poor income residents. The older more established areas show a decrease in the percentage of the poverty when considering the total population. Interestingly, poverty appears to have increased in traditional authority areas adjacent to urban core areas (eThekwini, Msunduzi, Buffalo city).


In a report on household income and expenditure patterns in South Africa for the year 2011, classification on income levels per household was developed by the Bureau of Market Research at UNISA (2013). To establish the proportion of households living in poverty for this study, the Poor income category (R0 - R54 344 income per annum) as defined by BMR was used. This definition cannot be directly extracted from the 2011 census income categories and these had to be adapted in order to calculate the total number of households within the Poor range. The metadata document can be accessed here.

Other Resources

  • CSIR BE. 2015. Indicator – Income change 1996-2011. (Prepared in support of SACN – State of the Cities Report 2015).
  • Beukes, A., Maritz, J., van Niekerk, W., Mans, G., van Huyssteen, E., & Green, C. (2014). A Comparative Analysis of City Regions. Unpublished PG research report. Pretoria: CSIR.
  • BMR. 2013. Household income and expenditure patterns in South Africa for 2011. Bureau for Market research, UNISA.
  • Van Huyssteen, E., Mans, G., Maritz, J., van Niekerk, W., Le Roux, A., Green, C., et al. (2014). Regional and temporal dynamics of South African cities and towns. Unpublished PG research report. Pretoria: CSIR.

For more information contact:

Gerbrand Mans,

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