Stats SA profiles the elderly population in South Africa

Stats SA profiles the elderly population in South Africa

The percentage of the population aged 60 years and above rose from 7,1% in 1996 to 8,0% in 2011, constituting an increase from 2,8 million to 4,1 million individuals. This is one of the findings contained in the Profile of Older Persons in South Africa report, which was released by Stats SA at the Population Association of South Africa (PASA) conference in East London on 01 October 2014. The report, which is based on the three population censuses of 1996, 2001 and 2011, provides valuable information on the demographic and socio-economic profiles of the elderly population.

In 2011, the proportion of white individuals aged 60 years and above relative to the entire white population was 20,1%, far higher than the proportion of elderly black Africans relative to the entire black African population (6,1%). That notwithstanding, Indians/Asians reflect a higher annual growth rate for persons aged 60 and above between 1996 and 2011 compared to other population groups.

The results on living arrangements show that more than half of elderly persons live in extended households. However, there is an upward trend in the prevalence of elderly single-member households (from 16,3% in 1996 to 26,7% in 2011). Sex variations show that the proportion of elderly women living in extended households is higher compared to that of their male counterparts.

Racial differences show that elderly whites and Indians/Asians occupied a higher socio-economic status than black Africans and coloureds. The proportions of rich white elderly persons were far higher than that of black African elderly persons (80,7% and 8% respectively).

There are noticeable population group disparities in educational attainment. Population group dynamics show marginalisation in education outcomes. High levels of illiteracy were more prevalent among coloured elderly persons and black Africans. In 2011, almost a third (28,4%) of elderly whites had attained a higher education compared to 8,2% of Indians/Asians, 3,6% of coloureds and 2,5% of black Africans.

For more information, please download the full report here.