The latest mid-year population estimates produced by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) show that South Africa’s population is estimated at 56.5 million people.
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 (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 population.
According to StatsSA, about 29.6% of the population is aged younger than 15 years, while 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.
Migration is an important demographic process, shaping the age structure and distribution of the provincial population. For the period 2016 to 2021, Gauteng and Western Cape are projected to experience the largest inflow of migrants of approximately 1.6 million and 485,560, respectively.
StatsSA’s data also showed a continuing theme among the country’s white population, namely a steady decline over the past decade. The country ‘lost’ over 22,250 whites over the past year, to an estimated 4.49 million in 2017.
There were 4.52 million white South Africans in 2016, as previously 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 ageing population – those people aged 70 and older.
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 and political concerns, high crime rates, concern about the standard of education, and BEE requirements in doing business.
More recent concerns include recessionary woes, and sovereign downgrades by top rating agencies.