An analysis of the poor's demand patterns during rising prices : the case of Bophelong
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This study investigated the demand patterns of poor households during a period of rising prices. Focus was on three main constructs namely the poor, rising prices and the demand patterns. The study was on Bophelong, a township in South Africa. This study was conducted from an empirical, quantitative approach which was preceded by a literature review. The main objective of conducting the literature review was to provide a theoretical framework for questionnaire design and empirical work. Cross sectional data was collected at Bophelong households. On completion of the survey, the poor were selected from the non-poor by means of a poverty line. The poor were further divided into two categories, namely moderately poor and the very poor. Moderately poor households were categorised by an income ranging 50% to 99% inclusively of their household poverty line. The very poor households were categorised by an income in the range of 0 to 49% inclusively of their poverty line. Using the above division, the total poverty rate was 56% of the total sample, 26% being moderately poor and 30% very poor. The poverty gap ratio for all the poor in the sample was 0.48, meaning that on average, the poor needed 48% of their current income to reach their poverty line. This ratio was 0.29 for the moderately poor households and 0.69 for the very poor households. A logistic regression done on the determinants of poverty in Bophelong showed that household size, age of the household head, monthly household income and the employment status of the household head were significant in determining poverty. The monthly average household income in Bophelong was R2 910. For the moderately poor households it was R1 641 for the and R932 for the very poor households. Household size was 3.96 for the whole sample size, 2.97 for the non-poor households, 4.2 for the moderately poor households and 4.7 for the very poor households. The study revealed that demand patterns of the poor differ from those of the non-poor. In addition the moderately poor households‟ demand patterns differ from the very poor An analysis of the poor‟s demand patterns during rising prices: the case of Bophelong household. The greatest part of income of the poor is spent on basic food stuffs. The very poor spent more than half of their income (53%) on food. The study indicated that bread is a giffen good only to the very poor households where quantity demanded moves in the same direction with price. In the non-poor households, bread is regarded inferior. A commodity can be overly a necessity, but the degree of necessity differs with a households‟ economic status. In some cases, a commodity was a necessity in the very poor households but a luxury in the non-poor. The way households substitute one good for another depends on their income levels. In conclusion, the study recommends that for poverty alleviation policies to effectively target the very poor in reducing malnutrition and hunger, these very poor should be studied separetely from the poor households. This is because households of different poverty levels face different challenges. A more detailed and deeper study relating to the demand structure of the poor is recommended. There is also a need to explore the survival means of the poor as to direct policy actions aimed at alleviating poverty among the poor in general.