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Vulnerability and Social Protection at the Margins of the Formal Economy

Andries du Toit
David Neves


This report summarises some of the most important results of an in-depth investigation into the social dynamics of vulnerability and social protection commissioned for National Treasury via SIPP: a research programme aimed at Strengthening the Impact of Pro-Poor Programmes in the Budget, run by the National Treasury, South Africa.

The research agenda for this project was developed through a dialogue between National Treasury and the Programme for Land and Agrarian Studies at theUniversity of the Western Cape, as part of its partnership with the Chronic Poverty Research Centre (CRPC), an international network of researchers focussing onchronic poverty ( In its partnership with the CPRC,PLAAS strives to do basic work that illuminates some of the core dynamics ofpersistent and structural poverty in South Africa in a way that permits engagementby both government and civil society; by policy interested researchers and bydecision makers. The initial discussions that led to the formulations of this research programme took place in mid 2004; the project itself started in April2005; and fieldwork took place between June 2005 and February 2006. In part, the project was also an attempt to explore and test the potential of in-depth qualitative methods in the exploration of poverty dynamics. The material elicited through fieldwork proved to be very rich. The current report touches on some ofthe most important and policy relevant patterns highlighted by field material. Wehope that the insights described here, and the conclusions we draw, will be of useto all the role players who are concerned with crafting appropriate and effectivesocial policy in South Africa, and with developing adequate policy responses to the challenge posed by persistent poverty in our democracy.

Publication Type(s)

Research Summary


vulnerability policy social protection South Africa


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