South Africa’s Black Middle Class Rises Despite New Tension Points

South Africa’s Black Middle Class Rises Despite New Tension Points

From Irish Times

South Africa’s black middle classes have surpassed their white counterparts in number over the past eight  years and are now seen as the driving force behind the country’s economic growth.

While the African National Congress-led government still has major challenges to overcome when it comes to improving the lives of the country’s poor majority, millions of black South Africans have advanced into the middle-class category since apartheid ended in 1994.

Although it is difficult to quantify their exact number, the Unilever Institute – a nonprofit organisation based at the University of Cape Town – recently estimated the black middle class had grown from just under 1.7 million in 2004 to 4.2 million in 2012.

Of the 8.3 million adults it classified as middle class last year, 51 per cent were black, compared with 34 per cent white, 9 per cent “coloured” and 6 per cent Indian. In 2004, the proportions for the two main groups were much different, with 52 per cent white and 32 per cent black.

The report, Four Million and Rising, said the black middle class was growing rapidly and collectively had 400 billion rand (€27.5 billion) to spend annually in an economy increasingly reliant on consumer spending for growth.

Written by Bill Corcoran | Read more at Irish Times