South Africans living longer, statistics show

Stats SA survey indicates that life expectancy has grown from 67.2 years in 2002 to 71.3. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency (ANA)

Stats SA survey indicates that life expectancy has grown from 67.2 years in 2002 to 71.3. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jul 12, 2020


Cape Town - South Africans are living longer, according to midyear population estimates released by Statistics SA.

Life expectancy at birth without HIV/Aids has grown from 67.2 years in 2002 to 71.3. The Eastern Cape has the highest proportion of elderly people (those aged 60 and over) in the country with 11.4%, followed closely by the Western Cape with 10.3%.

Mpumalanga has the fewest old people with only 7.9% of its population classed as “elderly”.

Life expectancy at birth for 2020 is estimated at 62.5 for men and 68.5 for women. The infant mortality rate for 2020 is estimated at 23.6 per 1000 live births.

“The life expectancy increased incrementally for each period across all provinces, but more significantly in the period 2011-16 due to the uptake of antiretroviral therapy over time in South Africa,” said Statistician-General Risenga Maluleke.

“In the period 2016-21 there is an average six-year gap between male and female life expectancy in South Africa; the Western Cape consistently has the highest life expectancy at birth for both males and females over time, while the Free State has the lowest life expectancy at birth.”

On the issue of the elderly and the Covid-19 pandemic, Maluleke said: “Vulnerabilities evident in this age group range from the need for social assistance programmes and easy access to cash transfers, to food programmes and access to health care.

“With the challenge of the Oviduct pandemic, we need to focus our attention on protecting our elderly.”

The survey found: “Gauteng continues to record the largest share of South Africa’s population, with approximately 15.5 million people (26%). The second-largest population, with approximately 11.5 million people, has been recorded in KwaZulu-Natal. Northern Cape maintained its status as the province with the lowest population in the country, with a population estimated at 1.29 million.

The survey indicates that approximately 51.1% (approximately 30.5 million) of the population is female.”

The report further shows that for the period 2016-21, Gauteng and Western Cape are estimated to experience the largest inflow of migrants of approximately 1 553 162 and 468 568 respectively.

Meanwhile, responding to the report, Afrika Tikkun chief executive Alef Meulenberg said: “The midyear population estimates show that one in three South Africans are 18 years or younger.

“South Africa’s poorest provinces still have the highest percentage of children aged 14 or younger. Limpopo (39.2%) tops the list, followed by the Eastern Cape (36.5%) and Mpumalanga (36%).”


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