SA population growth slowing

2011-09-22 11:07

South Africa’s population growth has slowed considerably, shows a progress review of the implementation of the population policy white paper.

The yearly growth rate of 2.1% between 1996 and 2001, and 1.3% between 2001 to 2007, is projected to decline to 0.9% by 2014.

The review was presented to Cabinet at its regular fortnightly meeting on Wednesday, government spokesperson Jimmy Manyi told reporters in Cape Town today.

The slowdown in population growth led to changes in the country’s population age structure, he said.

This brought new population and development problems, especially in relation to young people who made up the majority of the population. The review highlighted the need to scale up services to young people, Manyi said.

The review evaluates progress in putting the 1998 white paper into practice. It is part of a broader process to guide the development of a five-year strategy on population and development between 2009 to 2014.

According to the review the population grew from 40.6 to 48.7 million between 1996 and 2008, and was projected to increase to 51.5 million by 2014.

However, data suggests population growth is decelerating.

The decline can be attributed to a prolonged decline in fertility rates and partly to an increase in HIV and Aids-related mortality.

According to the review the population is slowly “maturing“.

The proportion of the population under the age of 15 is steadily declining – from 34% in 1998 to 31% in 2007.

At he same time, other age categories, particularly the proportion of elderly people (over 60 years of age), are showing noticeable growth.

Although the proportion of people between 15 and 34 (the youth) has remained relatively stable during the period under review, this group is expected to grow significantly in future.

The population is poised to deliver a demographic “dividend” in which a relative upsurge in the proportion of people in their working ages relative to the proportion of dependants, such as children and elderly, might provide a demographic impetus to development.

The demographic potential might, however, be offset by poor skills and the inadequate distribution of employment opportunities relative to residential patterns, it says.

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