More people than expected

2012-10-31 00:00

CENSUS 2011 has revealed that South Africa, with its official tally of 51,7 million people, has far more citizens than the experts predicted.

Statistician and former Pietermaritzburg resident Professor Martin Wittenberg said the fact that the population was bigger than expected was due to two factors.

The roll out of anti-retroviral treatment for people with HIV/Aids. This had increased life expectancy.

The second was cross-border migration.

Wittenberg, who is a professor at the University of Cape Town, pointed out that the census showed that 9,5% of the people resident in Gauteng province were not born in South Africa.

The census figures also showed that there was a decline in the birth rate in South Africa and that the population of South Africa was growing by a rate of 1,4% per annum.

Wittenberg said the birth rate had been on “a long-term decline, so this is not surprising.”

He said it meant that, down the line, several of the problems the country currently faced would become more tractable.

For example, in education “we will be able to concentrate resources on relatively fewer learners,” he said.

Wittenberg added that much further down the line (in 30 years time) it will mean that the country will be facing the “aging” issues of the developed countries — having a larger and much older population.

“The current population is still looking youthful, but not quite as youthful as it did in previous years,” he said.

The Gauteng population growth did not surprise Wittenberg.

He said urbanisation was already evident at the time of the last census.

“This just confirms those trends. It does mean that urban infrastructure is a key issue going forward. Housing and urban services will obviously be under pressure from this sort of influx,” he said.

• nalini@witness.co.za

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