The demography of migrant populations in South Africa

Kevin J. A Thomas, University of Pennsylvania


This study focuses on three issues related to the demography of migrants in South Africa. First, it estimates intercensal migration flows in South Africa between 1996 and 2001. It finds that the overall net-international migration flow was positive and that there were significant changes in the size and composition of South Africa's immigrant population during this period. In terms of internal migration, rural areas experienced net-outflows of population between the ages of 10 and 29 while urban areas experienced net-inflows in this age-group. However, urban areas had net-outflows of population between ages 30 to 64 while rural areas experienced net-inflows in this age-group. This study also examines fertility differences by migration status. Immigrants and internal migrants had lower levels of fertility than non-migrants. Migrants had fewer children at older ages than non-migrants and ‘Own-child’ estimates of their past fertility indicated that their fertility was lowest during the year of migration. Finally, the study examines child mortality by migration status. Among immigrants and internal migrants, there was a greater decrease in child mortality as socioeconomic status increased than among non-migrants. Also, there was a cross-over in the likelihood of child mortality by international migration status as socioeconomic status increased. Among the poorest socioeconomic quintiles, immigrants had a greater likelihood of child mortality than the native-born. However, among the richest quintiles the likelihood of child mortality was greater among the native-born than among immigrants.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Thomas, Kevin J. A, "The demography of migrant populations in South Africa" (2004). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3152114.