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2021 Mid-year population estimates

For 2021, Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) estimates the mid-year population at 60,14 million people.

Approximately 51,1% (approximately 30,75 million) of the population is female.

On 5 March 2020, South Africa recorded its first case of COVID-19. By the 11th of March, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. South Africa’s first COVID-19 related death occurred on 27th March 2020 and, subsequently, it has become abundantly clear that COVID-19 has had a significant impact on South Africa.

Life expectancy at birth for 2021 is estimated at 59,3 years for males and 64,6 years for females, which represents a drop of 3,1 and 3,8 years respectively compared to 2020. Crude death rate has also increased by 2,9 deaths per 1000 of the population over the same period.

The infant mortality rate for 2021 is estimated at 24,1 per 1 000 live births.

The estimated overall HIV prevalence rate is approximately 13,7% among the South African population. The total number of people living with HIV (PLWHIV) is estimated at approximately 8,2 million in 2021. For adults aged 15–49 years, an estimated 19,5% of the population is HIV positive.

There is a reduction in international migration, which is indicative of the COVID-19 travel restrictions and subsequent impact on migratory patterns since March 2020. Migration is an important demographic process, as it shapes the age structure and distribution of the provincial population. For the period 2016–2021, Gauteng and Western Cape are estimated to experience the largest inflow of migrants of approximately 1 564 861 and 470 657, respectively.

Gauteng still comprises the largest share of the South African population, with approximately 15,81 million people (26,3%) living in this province. KwaZulu-Natal is the province with the second largest population, with an estimated 11,5 million people (19,1%) living in this province. With a population of approximately 1,30 million people (2,2%), Northern Cape remains the province with the smallest share of the South African population.

About 28,3% of the population is aged younger than 15 years (17,04 million) and approximately 9,2% (5,51 million) is 60 years or older. Of those younger than 15 years of age, the majority reside in Gauteng (21,8%) and KwaZulu-Natal (21,2%). The proportion of elderly persons aged 60 years and older in South Africa is increasing over time and, as such, policies and programs to care for the needs of this growing population should be prioritised.


For technical enquiries, contact:

Diego Iturralde, Chief Director: Demographic Analysis Cell: 082 413 2661

Email: diegoi@statssa.gov.za