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Adaptive Expectations and Subjective Well-being of Landfill Waste Pickers in South Africa’s Free State Province.


Year published: 2019
Categories: Journal Article
URL Link: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12132-019-09381-5

Author / Authors:

  • Blaauw, P.
  • Pretorius, A.
  • Viljoen, K. et al.


Waste pickers are widely regarded as among the most marginalised groupings in the informal economy. Theoretically, this can have a negative impact on the evaluation of their well-being. The aim of the research was to investigate possible determinants of subjective well-being in South Africa’s informal economy, using a case study of waste pickers on landfill sites in the Free State province of South Africa. The data were sourced from structured interviews with 420 waste pickers on landfill sites in the three major municipalities in the Free State province in 2012. A mixed method research design was used in the research. The standard quantitative data analysis was supplemented with a qualitative analysis to provide deeper insight into the research question. The results are reported in context with the broader perspective of the labour market in South Africa. The results indicate the importance of location and size of the landfill in explaining the subjective well-being of the waste pickers. Further research is needed among other marginalised groups to gain a clearer understanding of the lives and livelihoods of those involved in the informal economy of South Africa. Society will then be better placed to value the contribution of informal waste pickers in the waste economy and policy makers will be better equipped to integrate them in the formal waste management strategies of municipalities.

Urban Forum, First Online: 01 November 2019,


  • Journal Article