Repository logo

Measuring South African social development: a case study of praxis in the Eastern Cape.

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



In South Africa, present levels of poverty and inequality are intolerably high, and there is both an incontestable imperative to enact, and an expressed commitment by the state to facilitate, social development. There is, however, little evident evaluation of how effective this undertaking has been. The aim of this research is to quantify and assess the social development praxis - ideology, process, and practice combined - of the mandated government Department of Social Development. The enquiry investigates the case of the Eastern Cape province, exploiting the public availability of the Eastern Cape Department of Social Development’s Annual Reports. The research first determines the scope of the Eatern Cape Department of Social Development activity by the measure of financial resource allocation across the categorical channels of Department of Social Development activity for the financial years 2007/2008 to 2017/2018. This enables in the second instance, establishing the changes in targeted social development outcomes by measuring the change in provincial inverse, multidimensional poverty over the study period. This was achieved using the data generated by all five waves of the National Income Dynamics Survey, and by computing a novel Multidimensional Poverty Index for the Eastern Cape using the Alkire-Foster metho. Utilizing a fractional response probit model to determine an empirical association between the explanatory variable of changes in Eastern Cape Department of Social Development financial resource allocation, and the changes in the outcome variable of targeted social development outcomes represented by the regional Multidimensional Poverty Index, the study estimated an empirical - but negligible - association between Eastern Cape Department of Social Development spending and the regional Multidimensional Poverty Index. This infers a limited impacty of Eastern Cape Department of Social Development praxis on multidimensional poverty. The research concludes that there is an evident insufficiency in the scope of the mechanism of state-led social development interventions as practiced in the Eastern Cape province and that redress of long-term deprivations and inequity of access to vital social goods, such as quality education, employment stability, and appropriate healthcare, has been inadequate. While this case evidence is not necessarily generalisable to the country, it is recommended that further investigation iteratively evaluates the outcomes of social development praxis in the other provinces.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.