Population Matters

Situation Analysis

The National Population Policy of 1998 emphasizes the shift to sustainable human development which places population at the centre of development, and regards people as the driving force and ultimate beneficiaries in development.

Population

Situation Analysis

The National Population Policy of 1998 emphasizes the shift to sustainable human development which places population at the centre of development, and regards people as the driving force and ultimate beneficiaries in development.

Population

South Africa has a population of 54 956 900[1]. South Africa has a youthful population: 66% of the population is below 35 years of age and youth aged 10 – 24 years account for 28% of the population.  Classified as a middle-income country, South Africa is well-off in economic terms and has made much progress in service delivery and addressing social challenges. Despite these successes approximately 45% of the population still lives below the poverty line[2].

With a Gini coefficient of 0.69[3], the country has one of the highest levels of inequality in the world. Racial and gender disparities persist, as do disparities between rural and urban areas. Unemployment in the general population is high at 25.2%, and unemployment among young people between the ages of 15 and 24 is at 36.1%.[4] Overall, 16.6 million South Africans are recipients of social grants (old age pension, child support grants, disability grants, etc).[5]

Demographic dividend

South Africa is a country which is transitioning from high mortality and fertility to low mortality and fertility – between 2002 and 2015, fertility has declined from an average of 2.8 children per woman to 2.6 children.[6] This results in a ‘youth bulge’ – the emergence of a large proportion of young people in the total population.  As this large group of young people  enters the labor force, there is massive potential for them to boost economies and advance development – if they are an empowered, appropriately skilled and capacitated cohort. When this happens, developing countries have the opportunity to realize this ‘demographic dividend’ – the rewards from which the country will benefit through investing in young people.

Data for development

South Africa has good capacity for quality data collection, management and analysis in the form of Statistics South Africa (StatsSA). The government introduced the Outcomes-based approach to planning, monitoring and evaluation in 2010 and this has also improved the use of data for evidence-based programming.

The last Population Census was in 2011 and  StatSA also conducts a range of surveys on a regular basis – Household Surveys, Community Surveys, Victims of Crime Survey – which produce good quality data into the public domain.

A Demographic Health Survey (DHS) will be conducted in 2016, which will help to fill some data gaps that have existed since the last DHS was conducted in 2003. Preliminary data from the survey is expected by the end of 2016, with more in-depth analysis to follow.

While population data is available, it has gaps, particularly around disaggregation by age, sex, income  and other population groups which limits data utilization for targeting disadvantaged and hard to reach population groups and accurately assessing population and human development including for monitoring and evaluation purposes.

UNFPA Response

UNFPA promotes generation and utilization of policy relevant data to inform policies and programmes. For instance, technical assistance is being provided to the National Department of Health for the SADHS 2016

  • UNFPA partners with government departments to advocate for increased utilization of data for planning and programming, for example by advocating for age-disaggregated data in the District Health Information System
  • Research studies have been supported such as the State of the Province Report (in Eastern Cape and KZN), the impact of migration on service delivery in the Eastern Cape, and a baseline study of the population situation of the 8 districts in which UNFPA supports
  • Support is provided to Government in the implementation of the National Population policy through research, capacity building and technical assistance
  • UNFPA supports local government capacity building for integration of population issues in development planning, policies and programmes which promotes inter-departmental collaboration and coordination

Advocacy around the demographic dividend and progammes for investment in adolescents and youth, realizing sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights and their potential for a healthy productive and fulfilling life.



[1] StatsSA, Mid-year Population Estimates 2015

[2] StatsSA, Poverty Trends in South Africa, 2014

[3] National Development Plan: Vision 2030

[4] StatsSA, National and provincial labour market: Youth (2014)

[5] DPME, Development Indicators, 2014

[6] StatsSA, Mid-year Population Estimates 2015

For PDF version of Fact Sheet, please click below:

Population and Development