Key findings: P0305 - Recorded live births, 2021

A total of 1 087 526 births were registered in South Africa in 2021. Of these, 949 757 (87,3%) were births that occurred and were registered in 2021 (current birth registrations), while 137 769 (12,7%) were births that occurred in the previous years but were registered in 2021. Of the total 949 757 children born in 2021, there were 498 573 males and 491 056 female births.

Of note was the increasing number of teenage mothers in 2021. A total of 45 257 births were of mothers aged 17 years and younger, and of these, 42 were births to mothers between 11 and 12 years. Early pregnancy and motherhood in South Africa creates a greater risk in terms of maternal complications resulting in low survival rates of babies and forces many girls to prematurely take on an adult role which they are not emotionally or physically prepared for.

The negative impact of COVID-19 and national lockdown regulations such as closure of DHA offices resulted in a 9,2% decline in registration within 30 days in 2020, however, a slight increase of  4% was observed in 2021, i.e. registration within 30 days increased from 71% in 2020 to 75% . Late registrations of birth after the lapse of 30 days but before end of the year, also decreased from 25% in 2020 to 20% in 2021

The Births and Deaths Registration Amendment Act (Act No. 18 of 2010), stipulates that all births must be registered within 30 days from date of occurrence. In 2021, a proportion of 74,6 % of births that occurred complied with this amendment. However, KwaZulu-Natal province remains the only province which performs poorly in terms of early birth registrations with only 67,7% births registered within 30 days of occurrence. This is according to the latest Recorded live births, 2021 statistical report released by Statistics South Africa today.

Information about fathers remain the biggest challenge. In 2021, no reliable information on fathers could be provided due to a high proportion of births registered (more than 60%) without details of fathers, however, this is expected to change in the coming years as in September 2021 the Constitutional Court ruled that this section of the Registration of Births and Deaths Act is unconstitutional. This means unmarried fathers can now have their information registered in the birth certificate of their children at the Department of Home Affairs.