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Proxy indicators as measure of local economic dispositions in South Africa: An exploratory study

N Barnard
M Oranje


Despite rapid advances and sizeable middle-class formation in many African countries, development planning  is still frustrated by the absence of reliable, relevant and up-to-date data. Even though South Africa is in a  more fortunate position with regard to the availability of such data, it also has data gaps, notably with regard  to informal economic activities in the rural areas of the country. This exploratory article engages the use of proxy indicators to provide cues as to the state of a local economy. The article explores the relationship  between a number of potential proxy indicators and the national economy in order to identify those proxy  indicators that mirror the national economy. An interview approach was used to test the identified indicators in three small towns in order to establish whether the nationally determined proxies reflect economic trends in practice. The six proxy indicators that closely mirrored the local economies of the three sampled towns  represent a modest, introductory exploration of an area worthy of far more empirical research.