GAUTENG has the highest consumer debt per capita of all nine provinces and accounts for almost half of total consumer debt held in South Africa, the latest South Africa survey by the South African Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) shows.
The survey monitors long-term trends in society, politics and the economy.
Using official figures from the National Credit Regulator for the second quarter, the institute found that the average individual in Gauteng owes R4,260.
Forms of debt include mortgage agreements, secured credit, unsecured credit, credit facilities and short-term credit transactions.
The Western Cape accounted for 14% of the total debt owed in South Africa, and had the second-highest debt per capita at R2,700 per person.
The province with the lowest debt per capita was Limpopo, at R750, accounting for 4% of the total debt owed in South Africa.
Data also showed that total consumer debt in the country increased from R85bn in the second quarter of 2011 to R104bn in the corresponding quarter in 2012, a rise of R19bn. Average per capita debt in 2012 was R2,050.
"Higher-income earners are able to borrow money more easily as they have assets or income against which they can borrow," SAIRR researcher Georgina Alexander said.
"On the other hand, low-income earners are less likely to have assets or a large enough income against which they can borrow money."
Ms Alexander said Gauteng was the province with the highest annual average household income, "so part of the reason for the high per capita debt in Gauteng may be the higher incomes in the province".