Johannesburg—One million white South Africans—almost a fifth—have left the country in the past ten years.
This figure was released last week in a report from the South African Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR).
Frans Cronjé, who compiled the report, said it was especially crime and affirmative action which had driven a fifth of South Africa’s white population out of the country.
He did an analysis of Statistics South Africa’s Household Surveys between 1995 and 2005, emigration figures and other reliable estimates on population numbers.
Cronjé said the results left himself and his colleagues dumbfounded.
“When we drew the graphs we saw that almost a whole generation of white South Africans are not here anymore.”
Young people, children leaving
The SAIRR’s population pyramid of white South Africans show a definite loss of young people and children under the age of ten.
The figures for 2005 put the number of white South Africans in the country at 4.3 million, 841 000 fewer than the 5.2 million of 1995.
Cronjé predicts that the white population would continue to shrink, and, he said, the situation would have a far-reaching impact on the economy.
“The white population is getting older, which means the white taxpayers are only going to contribute to the economy for the next twenty years. There would have to be a huge influx of skilled workers to fill this gap. This, unfortunately, is not the case.”
Due to the inequalities of the past, the education of most of the black children is still not on par to fill these gaps.
Last year, for example, only 3 000 black learners passed matric with higher grade mathematics, said Cronjé.
Most of the white emigrants are economically productive people, said Marco Macfarlane, co-author of the report.
However, in the last decade the black economically productive population grew by 81%. Some of these people have slot into the high-income group, where black people make up a third of the top earners.
Whites, however, still account for half of this group, where Indians and coloureds make up 7% and 6% of the high-income group respectively.
The rest of the black entrants to the labour market are busy in the informal sector, which do not necessarily contribute to the tax income.
“Black people are entering the economy at a stiff pace, but of the economically active middle class (the country’s biggest tax contributors), blacks only account for 1%.”
Macfarlane said crime and affirmative action are the top reasons for the exodus of whites.
More whites going to leave
“And because the crime figures are not going to decline rapidly and affirmative action is to continue, more whites are going to leave.
“The young people reckon they are being punished for what happened in the previous dispensation. They are furious, because they feel they had no part in it,” said Macfarlane.
According to the report the emigrants are between 20 and 40 years old.
“This is the group that have children and help grow the population, but now they’re getting their children overseas. And they don’t come back. That means the white population is going to continue to shrink.”
The decline in the white population in the decade to 2005 is estimated at 16.1%.