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South Africans Struggling To Afford Retirement

For many South Africans, retirement is a distant reality. Exactly how much of the population can afford life after work?

Rocco Zizzamia from The Southern Africa Labour & Development Research Unit said many South Africans struggle to make ends meet on a daily basis.

This makes it difficult for them to save up enough money to retire. 

"50 to 60% of South Africans are expected to live on an amount which is below the poverty line. That's set at R1 300 per person per month...meaning that speaking about retirement is just out of the question," said Zizzamia. 

As a result, South Africans rely on funding from the government pension fund which pays out a bit more than the amount that the average South African lives on.

Zizzamia said the research unit has divided South Africa into social classes and the 

"50% of the South African population is what we would call 'chronic poor'. They're not only poor today, but they're also very unlikely to escape poverty tomorrow or a year from now."

"About 25% of the population are on the border between being poor and not being poor. They might be above poverty at any particular point in time but they're highly vulnerable to falling back into poverty. Or if they're poor at a particular point in time, they're highly likely to escape poverty but only temporarily," he said. 

The percentage of the population that is not poor but also not likely to fall into poverty is 25%. This is the middle class population, which according to Zizzamia, is the only population that would be thinking about saving. 

With the recent job losses caused by Covid-19, these findings are expected to be worse over time. 

Zizzamia said the pandemic has affected the poorest of the population more than those in the middle class. 

In September, STATS SA announced that 2.2 million jobs were lost in the second quarter of the year. This is the highest recorded decline since the survey began in 2008. 

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