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Abstract

This paper discusses the changing profile of rural livelihoods in South Africa using the National Income Dynamics Study Waves 1 - 3. The rural sector is undergoing compositional change, with the literature suggesting a phenomenon of de-agrarianisation taking place as households are choosing to move away from agriculture as their main livelihood source. This concept, and others, are interrogated by constructing a panel and looking at the movement of individuals into and out of various states over the period 2008-2012. This is a crucial period for South Africa following fourteen years of policy changes since entering democracy and thus being at the beginning of a period where the country starts setting its path for the future. The analysis finds support for the notion of deagrarianisation, most prominently through the movement of individuals away from agriculture in rural labour markets and the decision by households to cease farming activities outside of formal employment. Rural-urban migration to find work was another identified livelihood strategy, although in South Africa there is also a simultaneous significant, albeit lesser, movement of individuals in the opposite direction. Grants were also shown to have become more prominent for rural livelihoods over the study period. Key words: agriculture, food security, migration, employment, rural development JEL codes: N57, N97, Q18, R11, R12, R23

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