Migration to cities has helped many South Africans to escape extreme poverty, even in tumultuous times. This is the striking outcome of our analysis based on the National Income Dynamics Study which tracks the progress of a representative sample of 30,000 people every two years.
Scaling up from the sample, we estimate that around 385 000 citizens were lifted above the poverty line between 2008 and 2014 by moving from rural to urban areas. They became better-off by getting onto the jobs ladder.
This finding is all the more surprising considering the anaemic performance of the economy over the last decade. Our study suggests that a proactive urban policy could improve the situation further.
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