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SA: Statement by Statistics South Africa, report on the social profile of vulnerable groups in South Africa 2002 to 2011 (06/12/2012)

6th December 2012


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Statistics South Africa released the Social Profile of South Africa (2002 to 2011), which is an annual report analysing changes in the situation of vulnerable groups such as children, youth, women and the elderly over time. The profile uses the General Household Survey (GHS) data from 2002 to 2011.

Vulnerable groups constitute a significant proportion of the South African population expanding in absolute numbers as the population grows. Children and youth respectively comprised 40% and 37% of the total population in 2011 while older persons comprised less than 9% of the country's population.


The data showed that 4,7% of children were double orphans, 11,1% paternal orphans, 3,3% maternal orphans and 80,9% of children were not orphaned. 8,1% of children lived in skip-generation households with their grandparents.

Approximately 65,1% of children lived in households had a per capita income of less than R650 per month. Close to 35% of children lived in households without any employed members. Social grants and remittances were vital to improve the access to food and education. 59,2% of children accessed social grants in 2011, 29,3% of the total population, and 69% of older persons accessed grants.


More than half (53,9%) of female-headed households were poor compared to 31,7 of male-headed households. Almost three-quarters (69,1%) of female-headed households in Limpopo reported a low income.

More than one-half (55,5%) of households headed by younger youth (aged 15-24 years) did not contain any employed members compared to 19,5% of households headed by older youth. Similarly, 43% of female-headed households were without a single employed member compared to 23,7% of male-headed households.

The low household income contributed significantly to insufficient access to adequate food and increased experiences of hunger. The analysis shows that 20% of households without employed members experienced hunger compared to 11% of households that contained at least one employed person. The percentage of households that experienced hunger declined consistently between 2002 and 2011.

Access to education had been improving consistently since 2002. The report questions the poor conversion of educational attendance into the completion of the secondary school phase, entry into higher education and completion of post-school qualifications. The largest percentage of the children (17,5%) and youth aged 15–24 years (36,4%) who dropped out of educational institutions, cited 'no money for fees' as main reason.

By the age of 22, approximately 52,7% of youth were neither attending any educational institution, nor working, while 25,6% are working and 21,8% are still attending an educational institution. Many young people continue to be at risk of becoming unemployable and falling into chronic systemic poverty.



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