This paper, originally written at the time of the political transition, provides an overview of social security issues at that time. A sustained improvement in the living standards of the poor requires economic growth and investment in human capital to allow the poor to benefit from that growth, but a social safety net is also necessary for those who do not yet share in those benefits and to safeguard those who do against contingencies such as unemployment, old age and illness. In South African, too little attention was paid by social scientists to social security issues before the political transition, with regard to both social assistance and social (occupational) insurance and the link between them.
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