These charts show how many South Africans plan to emigrate – and why

New data reveals the current level of ‘happiness’ among South Africa’s middle class, and what keeps them awake at night.

BrandMapp is a dataset that uses a mega-sample of more than 30,000 South African respondents to profile the 12 million adults who live in mid- to top-income households earning in excess of R10,000 per month.

Any measure of happiness in South Africa during Covid times has to take into consideration that we are a nation already chronically and highly stressed by the impacts of obdurate social and economic inequality, the authors of BrandMapp’s consumer insights research said.

Respondents in the survey were given a list of ‘which of these things keep you up at night?’, with the average respondent ticking off as many seven items.

The majority (60%) of those participating in the survey ranked crime as their number one worry, followed by corruption (54%), while perhaps surprisingly, the Covid-19 pandemic ranked third.

Brandon de Kock, a director at BrandMapp, said: “Clearly, we are a traumatised society. So much so that our anxieties over crime and corruption could not even be eclipsed by an infectious novel virus spreading across the world and upending every aspect of our lives.

“Less than half (45%) of the respondents reported that Covid kept them up at night, which was on the same level as government incompetence (45%) and marginally more worrisome than weak economic growth (43%).

Only 30% of people said they were optimistic about the country’s future, but that’s just 6% down from 2019. De Kock said: “That’s a milder than expected reaction to living through the first pandemic year. It would have been understandable to see a more dramatic rise in a pessimistic outlook.

“This speaks to the fact that before Covid, life in South Africa was no picnic, even for the more privileged, and it’s been that way for a long time. So, it’s going to take more than a virus and a pandemic to alter our collective mindset.”

BrandMapp noted that almost the same percentage of tax-paying South Africans said they were definitely planning to emigrate in the next five years, which highlights the real urgency of improving safety, governance, and prosperity in the country.

“These are issues as or more important to us than Covid, and most likely even more top of mind given the recent rioting and looting,” it said.

So, how happy are we?

Despite all of this, however, the vast majority of mid-income South Africans are happy – with less than 10% of respondents admitting to being unhappy.

“What we see here is that over 50% of the respondents at the moment identified as happy or very happy, with a slim majority saying they are okay,” said De Kock.

“Only 3% of our respondents for BrandMapp 2021 were unemployed at the time, so having a job or being a student or retired are other reasons to be happy with life.

“Lockdown restrictions and prohibition suck but – being at home enjoying so much quality time with our loved ones has had its real pleasures. So, it’s perhaps not surprising to see how happy we have been: perhaps it’s further proof of our emotional resilience.”


Read: Government’s plan to help businesses recover from looting and Covid-19 impact – including tax breaks

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These charts show how many South Africans plan to emigrate – and why