The Unequal Burden of Poverty on Time Use in South Africa

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Burça Kızılırmak
Emel Memiş


This study aims to contribute to the research on poverty by analysing the association of income poverty with gender inequalities in time use patterns. Based on South Africa's first time-use data compiled in 2000, we explore whether household income poverty has any influence on the typical patterns of time use of women and men. Controlling for a variety of household and individual characteristics, we assess the extent to which living in income poverty produce long hours of work –-in particular unpaid work hours-- using bivariate and multivariate Tobit estimations. Our results show asymmetric impacts of income poverty on women's and men's time allocations controlling for the widely accepted determining factors. While women in poor households spend more time on unpaid work activities, we do not see any significant change in men's unpaid work time with poverty status. Women's total paid and unpaid work time is higher under poverty as the increase in their unpaid work time extends away from the decline in paid work time. Other findings obtained provide supporting evidence presented in previous research: being married/cohabiting with a partner has an increasing impact on women's unpaid work, whereas an opposite impact is observed for their male counterparts. Women's unpaid work time increases with the number of preschool children, whereas it is the paid work time which rises in case of men's work time.


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Kızılırmak, B. and Memiş, E. (2019) “The Unequal Burden of Poverty on Time Use in South Africa”, World Journal of Applied Economics, 5(2), pp. 31-51. doi: 10.22440/wjae.5.2.1.
Research Articles
Author Biography

Burça Kızılırmak, Ankara University, Department of Economics

Burça A. Kızılırmak is Professor of Economics at Ankara University, specializing in macroeconomics and labor economics. Her recent research focuses on the gendered patterns of paid and unpaid work.


Emel Memis is Associate Professor in the Department of Economics at Ankara University. She specializes in macroeconomics, gender and economic development, and feminist economics.



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