The latest mid-year population estimates produced by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) show that South Africa’s population is estimated at 59.62 million people.
Around 51.1% (approximately 30.5 million) of the population is female, while 5.43 million people are aged 60 and over.
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 provincial estimates show that Gauteng has the largest share of the overall population, followed by KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape and Eastern Cape.
However, the report noted that inter-provincial, as well as international migration patterns, significantly influence the provincial population numbers and structures in South Africa.
As of mid-2020, Stats SA said that life expectancy at birth improved to 62.5 years for males and 68.5 years for females with these figures steadily increasing over the last decade.
However, the stats body warned that these gains can be lost if, over time, the deaths due to Covid-19 are not curbed with effective treatment protocols and a vaccine.
“In South Africa, population estimates indicate that the proportion of elderly persons (60 years and older) has grown from 7.6% in 2002 to 9.1% in 2020.
“In recent years, South Africa has moved from a country suffering mostly mortalities from communicable diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS – which are often concentrated at younger ages – to scenarios where most causes of death are attributable to non-communicable diseases, manifesting at late ages, such as strokes or heart disease,” it said.
The highest proportions of elderly persons aged 60 years and above are found in Eastern Cape (11.4%), Western Cape (10.3%) and Northern Cape (10%).
“Developed countries that have, on average, an older population, experienced significantly higher numbers of Covid-related deaths among their elderly.
“However, developed countries also have better functioning health systems. Although the health burden may be greater in developed countries due to their age profile, they have a greater ability to meet it.
“South Africa, recognising its vulnerabilities, immediately responded with a lockdown to curb the spread and flatten the curve to provide health care systems the opportunity to prepare themselves to deal with the pandemic,” StatsSA said.