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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

versão On-line ISSN 2224-7912
versão impressa ISSN 0041-4751

Tydskr. geesteswet. vol.48 no.2 Pretoria  2008


Is groeiende welvaart teenoor armoede 'n nul-som spel?


Is increasing wealth vis-à-vis poverty a zero-sum game?



Jannie RossouwI; Johan FourieII

IS A Reserwebank en Departement Ekonomie, Universiteit van Pretoria.
IIS A Reserwebank.




Hierdie artikel toets die hipotese:
 Is groeiende welvaart teenoor armoede 'n nul-som spel?
Die hipotese staan teen die agtergrond van die stelling:
 Die rykes word ryker en die armes word armer.
Hierdie stelling laat die indruk dat groter of groeiende welvaart vir een individu of groep net moontlik is ten koste van ander individue of groepe.
In die praktyk is die noodwendige gevolg van ekonomiese groei en toenemende welvaart nie 'n toename in armoede nie. Regerings wat verantwoordelik optree, dra by tot 'n vermindering van armoede, selfs al neem die welvaart van rykes toe. Onderdrukkende regerings maak egter van groeiende welvaart 'n nul-som spel.
Die slotsom nadat die hipotese getoets is, laat twee met mekaar botsende antwoorde. Onder sekere omstandighede word die hipotese bevestig, maar onder ander omstandighede word dit verwerp. Die uitdaging wat die wêreld in die gesig staar, is om te verseker dat groeiende welvaart tot almal se voordeel is. Dit sal enige indruk van 'n nul-som spel beëindig. Die keuse lê by ons, en te midde van toenemende polarisasie in die wêreld is ons waarskynlik die laaste geslag wat nog die voorreg van 'n keuse het om 'n verskil te kan maak.

Trefwoorde: armoede; beginsels van 'n regstaat; demokrasie; eiendomsreg; ortodokse en strukturele benaderings tot ontwikkeling; welvaart; werk/vryetydbalans


This paper tests the following hypothesis: is increasing wealth vis-à-vis poverty a zero sum game? This hypothesis is tested on the basis of the statement that "the rich gets richer and the poor poorer". This statement leaves the impression that increased wealth for an individual or group is only possible at the expense of another individual or group. Varying conclusions are reached when the hypothesis is tested in terms of economic growth, government conduct and the Barcelona Consensus.
Criticism is often levelled at a perceived unfair distribution between the rich and the poor, or an increase in wealth, or increasing wealth for individuals, hence creating an impression of increasing wealth at the expense of the poor. The basis for this assertion is that any benefits accruing from economic growth are not automatically distributed to the poor in the community, as their skills are often of such a nature that they cannot secure employment opportunities in the economic system. In reality economic growth and increased wealth do not necessarily result in an increase of poverty among the poor, implying that the hypothesis cannot be proven as if it were an economic law. Responsible actions by governments do not confirm the hypothesis, as responsible conduct by any government reduces poverty, even if the wealth of the rich increases. On the contrary, oppressive governments that do not recognise the principles of democracy, market forces, property rights or the rule of law often make a zero-sum game of growing wealth vis-à-vis poverty, hence confirming the hypothesis.
Historically improvements of the work-leisure balance have not only benefited the wealthy. The implementation of flexible labour market policies with concomitant changes to the number of hours that workers are expected to work, have changed this balance also for labour. Economic growth can therefore result in improvements in living conditions that are not immediately obvious; for example, increased leisure time or improvements in relative wealth, measured in terms of working hours required to purchase items used by an average household. Irrespective of their income levels, workers are able to enjoy an improved balance between work and leisure, thereby disproving the hypothesis.
The Barcelona Consensus confirms the conclusions on economic growth and forms of governments: the hypothesis has no merit within a framework of responsible political and social decisions, but is confirmed when governments act irresponsibly. The Consensus highlights international development problems, increased poverty and the problems associated with globalisation. The conclusion reached is that undemocratic governments and the absence of democratic principles serve as a hindrance to achieving a better world economic order. On the one hand the hypothesis is supported if the current pattern of globalisation and externalities such as global warming are taken into account. On the other hand the Consensus confirms that the hypothesis cannot be confirmed in a framework of responsible decision-making by governments.
The final analysis after testing the hypothesis leaves two distinctly divergent answers. In certain circumstances the hypothesis is confirmed and in others it is refuted. The challenge facing the world is to ensure that increased wealth benefits all, thereby ending any impression of a zero-sum game. With increased polarisation in the world, we might be the last generation with the privilege of having a choice about wealth accumulation and poverty eradication, and possibly thereby making a difference.

Key concepts: democracy; orthodox and structural approaches to development; poverty; property rights; rule of law; wealth; work/leisure balance


Full text available only in PDF format. 


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1 Die menings in hierdie artikel weerspieël nie noodwendig die menings van die SA Reserwebank of van die Universiteit nie. Die artikel is gebaseer op 'n voordrag by die SA Akademie se Simposium in 2007. Nuttige kommentaar van 'n keurder word met dank erken.
2 Contreras (1999) identifiseer ook die groeifase teorie en die neo-Marxistiese teorie as modelle wat voorheen ontwikkel is om armoede in ontwikkelende lande te bowe te kom. Moderne literatuur oor ekonomiese ontwikkelingsmodelle belig die tekortkomings van hierdie modelle (sien by voorbeeld Contreras 1999; of Moloto 2005:34).
3 Toenames in welvaart is nie altyd ooglopend is nie. Aan die een kant het die werkstyd wat nodig is om spesifieke items aan te koop, weens groeiende produktiwiteit afgeneem. Cox en Alm (1997:4) meld dat dit 'n gemiddelde Amerikaanse werker in 1919 dertig minute se arbeidstyd geneem het om genoeg te verdien om een pond (454g) beesvleis te koop, terwyl die arbeidstyd tot 6 minute teen 1997 afgeneem het. Marber (2003:25) meld dat 'n gemiddelde Amerikaanse werker in 1895 nagenoeg 260 uur moes werk om 'n fiets te koop, terwyl net 8 werkure teen 2003 nodig was om 'n fiets te koop. Aan die ander kant het werkers se vrye tyd ook toegeneem (sien byvoorbeeld Fogel 2000:185; of Marber 2003:147).
4 In hierdie verband meld Kose et al. dat "... developing countries perhaps would need to implement sound macroeconomic and structural frameworks" (2003:138) ten einde die risiko's van internasionale finansiële integrasie te verminder.



Dr Jannie Rossouw is 'n Adjunkhoofbestuurder van die SA Reserwebank en doseer deeltyds in die Departement Ekonomie aan die Universiteit van Pretoria. Hy het 'n magistergraad in die ekonomie en 'n MBA aan die Universiteit van Pretoria behaal, en het pas 'n PhD oor die onderwerp Inflation in South Africa from 1921 to 2006: history, methodology and credibility aan die Universiteit van KwaZulu-Natal voltooi. Sy navorsingsfokus was die ontwikkeling van 'n inflasiegeloofWaardigheidsbarometer (inflation credibility barometer). Hierdie graad is in April 2008 aan hom toegeken.

Hy is tans besig met verdere navorsing oor die toepassingsvelde van inflasiegeloofWaardigheidsbarometers en doen ook (saam met sy kollega Johan Fourie) navorsing oor vordering met die vestiging van 'n monetêre unie in die Suider-Afrikaanse Ontwikkelingsgemeenskap. Hy het verskeie akademiese artikels in vakwetenskaplike tydskrifte gepubliseer en plaaslike en internasionale kon-ferensies toegespreek.

Dr Jannie Rossouw is a Deputy General Manager of the SA Reserve Bank and lectures in a part-time capacity at the Economics Department of the University of Pretoria. He completed a master's degree in economics and an MBA at the University of Pretoria. He has just completed a PhD on Inflation in South Africa from 1921 to 2006: history, methodology and credibility at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. His research focus was the development of an inflation credibility barometer. This degree was conferred in April 2008.

He has published numerous academic papers on a broad variety of topics in accredited academic journals and addressed local and international conferences. His current research focus areas are the broader application of inflation credibility barometers and (jointly with his colleague Johan Fourie) progress towards the establishment of a monetary union in the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Johan Fourie is die Uitvoerende Assistent van die President van die SA Reserwebank. Hy het sy kwalifikasies in die staatsleer aan die destydse Universiteit van Port Elizabeth (tans die NMMU) behaal.

Sy huidige navorsing handel oor die verband tussen die grondslag van 'n regstaat (rule of law) en armoedeverligting. Saam met sy kollega Jannie Rossouw doen hy ook navorsing oor vordering met die vestiging van 'n streeksmonetêre unie in die Suider-Afrikaanse Ontwikkelingsgemeenskap en alternatiewe beleidsmodelle vir 'n te stigte sentrale bank vir die streek. Hy het verskeie plaaslike en internasionale konferensies toegespreek

Johan Fourie is the Executive Assistant of the Governor of the SA Reserve Bank. He obtained his qualifications in political science at the former University of Port Elizabeth (currently the NMMU).

His current research interests cover the link between the rule of law and poverty eradication. In conjunction with his colleague Jannie Rossouw he is also busy with research on progress towards a monetary union in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the available policy choices for an envisaged SADC central bank. He has addressed local and international conferences on his research interests.

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