Professor Imraan Valodia, recently served as chair of a panel of experts advising the South African government on a national minimum wage. In a recent article, he takes a wider lens locating debates on inequality within the work of the late Professor Anthony Atkinson and recent estimates on global inequality provided by Oxfam. He answers the question as follows:

As South Africans, we should be very concerned about inequality. Given our history and the fact that we are considered to be among the most unequal societies in the world, significant growth in wealth disparities will undermine the social and economic fabric of our society.

Atkinson’s work and the Oxfam report offer a number of policy ideas which need to be debated urgently. Interestingly, both Atkinson and Oxfam favour minimum-wage policies. I had the pleasure of chairing the advisory panel which has recommended a national minimum wage of R20 an hour for South Africa. This would be a good place to start to address the bigger and pressing challenges of inequality in our society.

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