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SA: Statement by Statistics South Africa, population results from Census 2011 (30/10/2012)

30th October 2012


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Stats SA today released Census 2011 results, showing that the country’s population grew to 51.8 million people.

The Census of 2001 put South Africa’s population at 44.8 million people, and the 2011 Census returned a count of 51.8 million.


The difference in the population numbers between 2001 and 2011 is seven million and represents a 15.5% population increase over the last decade. 

“South Africa’s population has officially surpassed the 50 million mark says Statistician-General Pali Lehohla."


The release analyses the country’s demographics, population distribution, and access to services, average household size, income, migration, and mortality.

The provinces of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal account for 42% of South Africa’s population, with Gauteng overtaking KwaZulu-Natal as the most populous province in the country and surpassing it by 2 million (12.3 million against 10.3 million).

The Eastern Cape recorded population decline in the national population and housing count, slowing from 15.1% in 1996 to 12.7% in 2011.

The fastest growing province in South Africa is Western Cape that grew at 29% followed by Gauteng, Mpumalanga and North West which grew collectively at 26% between the two censuses.  The rest of the provinces grew at 6%.

“The data is showing an unceasing march out of the largely rural provinces to provinces like Gauteng and the Western Cape,” said Mr Lehohla".

The statistical release indicates that 1 million people moved to Gauteng in the last decade, and that only 56% of people living in Gauteng today were born there. About 2.2 million people were born outside South Africa according to 2011 Census compared to 1.2 million. 


Census 2011 puts the country’s average age at 25, an indicator that South Africa, albeit getting slightly older compared to the two previous censuses, continues to have a youthful population. The average age according to the 1996 and 2001 census was 22 and 23 respectively.


“The country has a relatively youthful population, and just over a third of the population was under the age of 15,” said Mr Lehohla."

The Census 2011 was the third national population and housing count in post-apartheid South Africa. The exercise saw 156 000 field staff employed last year to count more than 14.6 million households


In line with global trends, South Africa’s sex ratio was skewed in favour of women; there were two million more females in the country than men. The 2011 census recorded 27 million females.  “This means that on average, South Africa had a sex ratio of 95 (95 males per 100 females),” said Mr Lehohla.

Meanwhile, South Africa’s average household income increased nominally by 113% in 2011 compared to the last census in 2001. The highest average household income was in Gauteng, which topped at R156 243 while the lowest was in Limpopo (R56 844). 

The average household income for black Africans was R60 613 while whites was highest at R365 134.

In real terms, the consumer price index (CPI) indicates that income should have increased by 77,5% during this period to have stayed in line with inflation.  Therefore  income grew above inflation thus suggesting standards of living have improved.

Limpopo remained the province with the lowest average annual household income of
R56 844, followed by Eastern Cape with an average of R64 539.

The Census statistical release also gives indicators on education, employment, housing, refuse removal and toilet access, access to piped water, what type of energy households’ use, and access to internet.

The Census 2011 post-enumeration survey (PES), which measures census coverage, put South Africa’s undercount at 14.6%, a statistically significant drop from 2001 figures. The undercount in 2001 stood at 17%.


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