Decades ago, Billy Holiday used to sing "God bless the child that’s got his own." In SA, this still holds true. The inequalities in ownership of assets — whether investments in a business, financial holdings or land – underpin differences in income and access that still shape the economic and social landscape. Holiday also sang, "Them that’s got shall get, them that’s not shall lose." Unequal riches are central to the reproduction of inequality. For some, accumulated – often inherited – wealth provides a source of economic power, but also income to supplement wages; a cushion against retrenchment; leverage for housing bonds; and resources for education and healthcare. But most people don’t have that luxury. The divisions are deepest by class, but also align with race and gender. Even if they have a decent salary, most black people, especially women, have fewer assets than their white peers because their families were historically barred from accumulating wealth. As a result, even be...

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as exclusive Financial Times articles, ProfileData financial data, and digital access to the Sunday Times and Times Select.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems? Email or call 0860 52 52 00. Got a subscription voucher? Redeem it now