A new report finds that poverty levels in South Africa during the five-year period between 2006 and 2011 have been on a steady decline.

Figures assembled by Statistics South Africa in a report called ‘Poverty Trends in South Africa’, found more than half of the population of South Africa, at 57.2 per cent, were living in poverty in 2006. Despite a marginal decline to 56.8 per cent in 2009, and by less than half by 45.5 per cent in 2011, the downswing nonetheless indicates a 20 per cent reduction in poverty from 2006 to 2011.

“We can see the dramatic impact the global financial crisis of 2008 to 2009 has had on the livelihoods of South Africa’s poorest. The number of people living below the food line increased to 15.8 million in 2009 from 12.6 million in 2006,” Statistics South Africa said in the report.

Household expenditure for poor and non-poor households for the period under review also indicated significant change. In 2011, the average household size of non-poor households was recorded at 3.1, significantly smaller than that of poor households at 1.5.

Poor households were however more likely to own their dwellings than non-poor households, though this is influenced by the type of dwelling likely to be owned.