n Institute for Security Studies Papers - Population futures : revisiting South Africa's National Development Plan 2030




Understanding the underlying dynamics of population change is critical for national planning. This analysis explores South Africa's fertility, mortality and migration outlooks, with a particular emphasis on the uncertainty surrounding migration. Using the International Futures (IFs) model and data from the South African 2011 National Census data, we simulated three potential population futures for South Africa to 2030 and compare these to the figures in the National Development Plan (NDP) 2030. According to our mid-range forecasts, by 2030 South Africa's population is projected to increase to:

  • 64,4 million with rapidly declining in-migration
  • 66,4 million with relatively stable in-migration
  • 68,8 million with rapidly increasing in-migration
Apart from being much higher, this range of potential futures in 2030 is much wider than the one set out in the NDP. In a second step, our extended analysis up to 2050 explores the impacts of these scenarios in the longer term. There we find an even greater range of uncertainty to be considered by national planners and policy makers in South Africa. Using the IFs Base Case, we conclude with an exploration of forecasts at the provincial level and find a higher baseline forecast than the NDP for many of South Africa's provinces, most notably for the Eastern Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape. These findings are important at the provincial and national level, because the demographic profile of a population has implications across all areas of public policy, including service delivery, employment, education, and healthcare.


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