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A Case of An Almost Complete Demographic Transition: South Africa


South Africa’s demographic transition is substantially complete, with fertility rates just above replacement level. This chapter describes the changing demography of South Africa from 1980 to 2015, and looks ahead to 2050. Using conventional metrics, the demographic window opened in South Africa in 2009, and will remain open beyond 2050. However, the pace of demographic change historically has been so slow that there has been (and will be) no ‘youth bulge’ to speak of. Systemic factors associated with the country’s apartheid past and limited domestic saving, by hampering the formation of capital domestically, will impede the collection of any demographic dividend.


  • Demographic Transition
  • Fertility Decline
  • South African Population
  • Demographic Dividend
  • Funded Public Pension

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  1. 1.

    Abbreviated to 2012WPP (the most recent 2015 World Population Prospects of the United Nations yield similar results for South Africa).

  2. 2.

    In its own fashion, this ageing is the cause of public policy concern in the developed world but this is several decades away in South Africa’s future and need not detain us here.


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Moultrie, T.A. (2017). A Case of An Almost Complete Demographic Transition: South Africa. In: Groth, H., May, J. (eds) Africa's Population: In Search of a Demographic Dividend. Springer, Cham.

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