How are living standards changing in the metropolitan areas of Gauteng?

An analysis of the Living Standards Measure (LSM) data from Statistics South Africa’s General Household Survey (GHS) in 2018 and 2019 shows some interesting trends as is reflected in the table below. As one would expect, there has been no significant improvement in many areas of the metro’s between the two years.

Significant improvement


Moderate improvement


Slight improvement


No change


Slight decline


Moderate decline


Significant decline


A small moderate improvement has occurred on the periphery of the urban areas predominantly within the larger farming communities and to a lesser extent in smallholding areas that are beginning to transform into urban areas (eg Honeydew, Four Ways). Across Ekurhuleni, Johannesburg and Pretoria there are many of these areas, especially within the higher per-capita income suburbs of the metros.

Large non-urban areas in close proximity to urban centres are also showing an improvement in living standards especially as mixed and residential developments are implemented. There are parts of the townships that are also showing improvements but to a far lesser extent than in suburban areas.

The living conditions in a vast majority of the areas have not changed and have stayed the same, which is especially the case within the townships of these metros. Areas that are showing slight declines include many of the smallholding areas on the periphery of the urban centres that tend to have low levels of accessibility. However, there are also many suburban areas that are showing slight declines.

Several suburbs in Pretoria are showing slight declines in living standards including Wonderpark, Villieria, Pretoria Gardens, Montana as well as parts of Atteridgeville & Mamelodi. This is postulated to be a consequence of these areas being historically lower to middle income communities, whose development has been overlooked resulting in lower per capita income people being able to move in to these areas. The movement of people from townships, as their per capita income improves, to better suburban areas also contributes to declines in living conditions in townships.

Township view in Hout bay area, Cape Town, South Africa

There are areas that have shown significant declines, but these are few and far between. Nevertheless, trends in living standards should be regularly monitored. On the one hand to identify areas that are rapidly declining to ensure they don’t become high areas of poverty and poverty traps. Geospatial data of this kind also allows businesses and home owners to make more informed decisions about opportunities to invest and provide products and services to the ever changing consumer market in the economic heartland of South Africa.

AfricaScope is a provider of geospatial data and has recently added the 2019 Living Standard Measure (LSM) data to is suite of products. It is also a provider of consumer purchasing behavior through its partnership with the Market Research Foundation (MRF) and its GeoMAPS product that maps the data from the Marketing All Product Survey (MAPS). AfricaScope has a wealth of other data products from its Township Potential Atlas to current demographic estimates and retail census data for South Africa and African countries. To contact us ….. click here.

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