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July 11, 2003

South African Census

The Economist has an interesting piece on the +'s & -'s of the new South Africa seen through the lens of the recent census. The article can be found in the extended entry....

Who are we?
Jul 10th 2003 | PRETORIA
From The Economist print edition

Blacker, slightly richer and more numerous

FIFTEEN officials died counting South Africans in the census taken in October 2001, at least four of them from gunshot wounds. Many also had to face the dogs and electric fences of white residents unwilling to answer questions. The violence and the fear help explain the census results, published this week. These suggest that the white population is shrinking fast as a share of the total: from 10.9% in 1996 to 9.6% two years ago. The numbers speaking Afrikaans or English as a first language are also sharply down. English is now only the fifth most popular language.

Statisticians say that real emigration since 1996 is much higher than the official rates. Judging by immigration reports from Australia, Canada, America, New Zealand and Britain, more than 1m white South Africans (out of about 5m) left the country in the past few years.

The census also shows that 41.6% of adult South Africans lacked formal work in 2001, a rate much higher than the official figure of about 30% and sharply worse than it was in 1996. Among blacks, one in two lacked a job.

But, in other ways, many things have improved under democratic rule. On average, South Africans are better educated, slightly richer, and better housed, lit and heated than they were in 1996, though the averages hide persistent inequality. People also have more telephones, fridges, radios, computers and cars. They also have more neighbours. The overall population rose from 40.5m to 44.8m in 2001, up 10%.

Some of that rise is explained by migrants from nearby countries such as Zimbabwe. And the true total would probably be much higher if all illegal immigrants were included in the census. But counting people who squat in rough spots such as Johannesburg's Hillbrow is even more dangerous than braving the rottweilers of the white suburbs.

Posted by razib at 12:03 PM

What do electric fences and dogs have to do with whites in rich suburbs? What about rich blacks in Houghton? Racist article!

Posted by: Kai at July 31, 2003 12:14 AM