Exploring the eligibility criteria of the child support grant and its impact on poverty
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One of the most important policy objectives in the post-apartheid South African economy is to reduce poverty. Although economic growth and job creation are the preferred sources of alleviating poverty and inequality, social grant spending has contributed significantly to reduce poverty (Van der Berg et al. in Poverty trends since the transition: what we know. Stellenbosch Economic Working Papers: 19/09. Stellenbosch: Stellenbosch University, 2009). Recently proposals were tabled by the Department of Social Development of South Africa (Fin24 in R3.3bn plan to extend child support grant to 21. www.fin24.com/Economy/R33bn-child-care-grant-extension-to-21-on-cards-20150316. Accessed August 7, 2015, 2015) to extend the age eligibility of the child support grant (CSG) to 21 years (at the time of writing children aged up to 18 years are eligible). This sparked an interest to investigate the impact on poverty of changes to the eligibility criteria of CSG, as well as its fiscal implications. Using person and household data from the 2010/2011 Income and Expenditure Survey, various simulations are performed to assess the impact on poverty rates and changes to social spending, given the following changes: (1) if all age-eligible children applied; (2) if all beneficiaries received the grant amount for the full 12-month duration; (3) if the age eligibility criterion is extended; and (4) if the monthly child grant income amount is revised upwards. We also examine how changes in the eligibility criteria affect the income distribution.