Migrants flock to Gauteng

According to the Mid-year population estimates report for 2018 released by Statistics South Africa, the population of South Africa is estimated at 57,7 million as at 1 July 2018. While births and deaths are considered the main drivers of population change, migration continues to be significant, not only demographically but politically, economically and socially.

The report shows that South Africa is estimated to receive a net immigration of 1,02 million people between 2016 and 2021. Most international migrants settle in Gauteng (47,5%) while the least are found in the Northern Cape province (0,7%). Gauteng is considered the economic hub of the country, attracting international migrants as well as domestic migrants from rural provinces such as Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape.

People migrate for a number of reasons; these can be categorised under economic, social-political, cultural or environmental. These categories also relate to what is known as “push” or “pull” factors. The economic strength of Gauteng relates to “pull” factors that influence its attractiveness to migrants. Gauteng receives the highest number of in-migrants for the period 2016 to 2021. Better economic opportunities, jobs, and the promise of a better life are some of the factors that make Gauteng an attractive destination.


The Western Cape receives the second highest number of in-migrants for the period 2016 to 2021. In this instance, the “push” factors are what may drive people from the Eastern Cape (EC) towards the Western Cape. Poor economic activity and lack of job opportunities are strong push factors for migration. According to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey for the first quarter of 2018, the EC had the highest unemployment rate in the country at 35,6%.



Movements within and across South Africa’s borders impact not only the population structure of the country and provinces within South Africa, but potentially the economic, political and social composition of a community, province and the country as a whole. Understanding and planning for current and projected migration patterns in South Africa is imperative for continued growth and development.

For the full report please click here

Statistics South Africa, in collaboration with the Department of Social Development will be hosting a National Conference on Migration and Urbanisation in South Africa in 2018. If you would like more information about the conference or you would like to present a paper, please click here.