The impact of household size on poverty: An analysis of various low-income townships in the Northern Free State region, South Africa

  • Daniel Francois Meyer Faculty of Economic Sciences and IT, North-West University
  • Rachel Nishimwe-Niyimbanira Faculty of Economic Sciences and IT, North-West University
Keywords: poverty, household size, low-income communities, Northern Free State, South Africa


Poverty is a multi-dimensional socio-economic problem in most sub-Saharan African countries. The purpose of this study is to analyse the relationship between household size and poverty in low-income communities. The Northern Free State region in South Africa was selected as the study region. A sample of approximately 2 900 households was randomly selected within 12 poor communities in the region. A poverty line was calculated and 74% of all households were found to live below the poverty line. The Pearson’s chi-square test indicated a positive relationship between household size and poverty in eleven of the twelve low-income communities. Households below the poverty line presented larger households than those households above the poverty line. This finding is in contradiction with some findings in other African countries due to the fact that South Africa has higher levels of modernisation with less access to land for subsistence farming. Effective provision of basic needs, community facilities and access to assets such as land could assist poor households with better quality of life. Poor households also need to be granted access to economic opportunities, while also receiving adult education regarding financial management and reproductive health.


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