“South Africa… is the most unequal country in the world, ranking first among 164
countries,” the Washington-based institution said in a report called ‘Inequality in
Nearly thirty years after the end of apartheid, “race remains a key driver of high
inequality in South Africa, due to its impact on education and the labor market,” it
When race is considered as a factor in income disparities, the report added, “its
contribution to income inequality amounts to 41 percent, while the contribution of
education is reduced to 30 percent.”
“The legacy of colonialism and apartheid, rooted in racial and spatial segregation,
continues to reinforce inequality.”
The country’s neighbours that make up the rest of the Southern African Customs
Union — Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho and Namibia — all finish high on the list of
the most unequal countries in the world.
Gender also plays an important role.
In the region, women earn on average 30 percent less than men with the same level
The pay gap between men and women reaches 38 percent in Namibia and South
The uneven distribution of agricultural land is also a factor driving inequality,
especially in rural areas.
In Namibia, 70 percent of the 39.7 million hectares of commercial agricultural land
“still belong to Namibians of European descent”, the World Bank said.
The report was produced before the COVID-19 pandemic and its authors used the
Gini coefficient, an indicator of income inequality to rank countries.