Population estimates are necessary to ensure that government and various other sectors, including health, education and business, plan effectively for South Africa. The mid-year estimates provide an indication of the distribution of the population by sex, age, population group, and province.
The stats body’s survey showed that the country’s population is up from 40.6 million in 1996.
- 2001 – 44.8 million
- 2011 – 51.8 million
- 2015 – 54.9 million
- 2016 – 55.7 million
- 2017 – 56.5 million
Life expectancy at birth for 2017 is estimated at 61.2 years for males and 66.7 years for females.
Gauteng comprises the largest share of the South African population. Approximately 14.3 million people (or 25.3%) live in this province, followed by KwaZulu-Natal with 11.1 million people (19.6%), while the Northern Cape remains the province with the smallest share of the South African population.
According to StatsSA, about 29.6% of the population is aged younger than 15 years, while the estimates indicate that the proportion of elderly (60 years and older) in South Africa is growing, reaching 8.1 % in 2017. According to the estimates, there are 4.6 million people in South Africa over the age of 60.
The mid-year population estimates show that regional variations of ageing exist in South Africa. While almost a quarter of the elderly live in Gauteng, they account for only 7.7% of the total Gauteng population.
In contrast, 12% of the elderly reside in Eastern Cape; however, nearly 10% of the Eastern Cape population comprises elderly persons. Mpumalanga’s population comprises 7% elderly, the lowest among the provinces.
Migration is an important demographic process in shaping the age structure and distribution of the provincial population. For the period 2016 – 2021, Gauteng and Western Cape are estimated to experience the largest inflow of migrants of approximately, 1,595,106 and 485,560 respectively.
StatsSA’s data showed a continuing theme among the country’s white population, which has been in steady decline over the past decade. The country ‘lost’ over 22,250 white South Africans over the past year, to an estimated 4.49 million total population.
There were 4.52 million white South Africans in 2016, as reported by Stats SA.
The data showed a big decline in the number of young white adults, while the only demographic showing any growth was recorded in the aging population – those people aged 70 and above.
Emigration experts have reported increases in the number of South Africans inquiring about immigrating to countries including Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the US, and even Canada.
The main reasons cited include financial concerns, political concerns, high crime rates, concerns over the standard of education, and BEE requirements in doing business.
More recent concerns include recessionary woes, and downgrades by top rating firms.