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Executive summary

South Africa is advancing, but failing to fully achieve its considerable potential. Per capita incomes are growing, public services are expanding, health indicators are improving, crime rates are falling and demographic trends are favourable. The public finances are in better shape than those of many OECD countries, the financial system is healthy and core inflation is stable and within the central bank’s target zone. At the same time, an extremely high proportion of the population is out of work, as has been the case for most of the past three decades. Moreover, income inequality remains extremely high, educational outcomes are poor on average and hugely uneven, and frustration is growing with public service delivery failures and corruption. Output growth is sluggish compared to most other middle-income economies. Environmental challenges such as climate change and water scarcity threaten the sustainability of economic growth, while high current account deficits represent a point of macroeconomic vulnerability.

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