OPINION

How many South Africans have left the country?

Politicsweb.co.za
14 August 2012

We examine the data from the UK, US, Australia, Canada and other states

Over the past few years there have been periodic bouts of speculation and controversy over the extent of South Africa's brain drain. Statistics South Africa stopped collecting data on emigration several years ago, and the flawed conduct of the 1996 and 2001 censuses has left question marks hanging over calculations based on other official data.

In 2006 the South African Institute of Race Relations estimated - by comparing the figures in Stats SA household surveys from 1995 and 2005 (as well as analysing other data) - that 841 000 white South Africans had left the country in that period.

However, as Patrick Laurence pointed out at the time there had been a considerable undercount of whites in the 2001 census and as a result the whites "who ‘disappeared' between 1995 and 2005 may not have emigrated. They may simply not have been counted in the 2001 census and consequently may not have been reflected adequately, if at all, in subsequent statistical data released by Stats SA."

Laurence further quoted Hilary Southall, a member of the Statistics Council, as saying that if the SAIRR had used the 1996 household survey figure as its starting point - rather than the 1995 one - the decline in the white population would have been measured at 127 000.

As it happens the main destination countries of South African emigrants do keep figures on the foreign born population of their countries. From this data, which is available on the OECD website, it is possible to get a fairly good idea of the extent of South African emigration.

19 OECD countries keep this sort of data. As the table below indicates - in 2010 - at least 588 388 individuals in these countries were recorded as having been born in South Africa. The real figure is likely to be higher than that as the figures for Canada and New Zealand date from 2006 and since then there have been further documented inflows of South African born migrants.

The countries with the highest numbers of individuals born in South Africa are, as one might expect, the United Kingdom (227 000), Australia (155 690), the United States of America (78 616), New Zealand (41 676) and Canada (38 310). These figures do not, obviously, include children born to South African born parents overseas.

According to separate OECD data on the inflows of foreign population by nationality 17 840 South Africans moved to these five countries in 1997 (the first year for which full data is available.) This trended upward before peaking at 44 227 in 2004. These inflows have subsequently declined somewhat, particularly to the United Kingdom, and in 2009 28 933 South Africans were recorded as having moved to these countries. In 2009, for the first time, more South Africans moved to Australia than to the UK (see graph below).

The major push factors, particularly for white South African emigrants, have traditionally been put down to high levels of violent crime (often personally experienced) and the racial employment policies of the African National Congress government. To these one could perhaps add the growing evidence of state decay and a resurgence of demands by ANC politicians for something to be done about continued white wealth.

The pull factors have recently weakened considerably due to the global financial crisis. However, if the ANC govt decides to go ahead with threatened amendments to the Employment Equity Act - which would apply punitive sanctions to companies that continued to promote whites into senior and top management positions - we are likely to see another surge of emigration by this group.

Table: Stock of foreign born population by country of birth (Country of origin: South Africa)

Country

2010

Australia

155 690

Austria

2 454

Canada

38 310*

Denmark

860

Finland

621

France

4 677*

Germany

8 000

Greece

3 632

Hungary

323

Iceland

65

Ireland

7 576*

Mexico

193

Netherlands

12 886

New Zealand

41 676*

Norway

1 230

Spain

2 556

Sweden

2 023

United Kingdom

227 000

United States

78 616

Total

588 388

* The data for Canada, New Zealand and Ireland is from 2006. The data for France is from 2008.

Source: OECD data (http://stats.oecd.org/)

Click here to sign up to receive our free daily headline email newsletter



 

Comments

If you come across comments that are injurious, defamatory, profane, off-topic or inappropriate; contain personal attacks or racist, sexist, homophobic, or other slurs, please report them and they will be removed.
 
 responses to this article

SA DIASPORAN STOCK

Your total figures seem low @ only 600k & the UK figure of only 227k seems very low. London is said to be 250k alone.

When we arrived here 1988, Rooibosch tea was only obtainable from visiting SAfricans or from the one & only SA shop in . .more

by John Austin on August 14 2012, 02:58
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

Stats on South Africans in the United Arab Emirates
What about the statistics of South Africans in the United Arab Emirates. The last I read, was above 150,000 were in the United Arab Emirates at one stage.

This number is not stagnant and fluctuates up and down due to the fact that the UAE is . .more

by Clinton on August 14 2012, 04:56
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

SA Diaspora
These figures are way too low to be credible. Only 227 000 in the UK? Just today we read about ETV starting a UK-based news channel carried by Sky, who recently kicked out Iran's Press TV channel. ETV boss Patrick Conroy is quoted by Rapport as "wanting . .more

by ZA Expat on August 14 2012, 05:10
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

Facts
I guess its a result of globalisation, people are free to move

by Nqaba on August 14 2012, 05:10
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

SA's White Exodus
The Rand, Durban and Cape Town's white populations in 1985 were swelled by a considerable number of immigrants from the UK, Germany, Italy, Holland, Ireland etc., most of whom had permanent residence status. I suspect that the MAJORITY of them have . .more

by Questor on August 14 2012, 06:11
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

@Questor
Exactly what I was planning to write. I have emigrated to SA in the early 70s, but left recently. One of my British neighbours arrived in 75 with wife and two small kids, all of them left a few years ago and none of us would appear in these type of . .more

by The Hun on August 14 2012, 06:45
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

Emigration
Be more objective in your article. Why amplify the "whiteness" of the emigration or attribute the reasons to be primarily to be violence, crime and ANC politicians squeals about white wealth?
It gives the impression that whites, more than other race . .more

by Basil on August 14 2012, 07:01
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

Questor on August 14 2012, 06:11
Dross - nah son , cant agree . For sure there's a bad potato in every patch , but plenty of solid saffers still here . Although my own brother who was one of the founding directors of the leading asset management firm here , retired aged 46 and moved to . .more

by Green Room on August 14 2012, 07:02
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

Proof of the Decline
Just in case you lot have selective amnesia , when I was a lighty , english cricketer Sir Dennis Compton sent his son Patrick to be educated at Michaelhouse in the Natal Midlands during the 70's.

If one were to extrapolate going forward , it . .more

by Green Room on August 14 2012, 07:10
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

Kom Net Met Dromedaries on August 14 2012, 07:24
Jy moes saam met die submarine , ondertoe gewees het , seunie .

by Green Room on August 14 2012, 07:42
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

@Kom Net Met Dromedaries
the african will starve, there will be no medical care and education will finally be zero.....you need the white mans magic to live.....A*******!!!

by onlooker on August 14 2012, 07:45
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

Shoulder to the wheel
Hey guys. Sad and sorry to see those fellow SAfricans go - and all for the wrong reasons. With them left at least a few million job opportunities if not about 10 million.

Imagine what their approximately 1 million votes could have done to the . .more

by Bokdrol on August 14 2012, 08:18
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

Emigration
Curiously, most commentators and investigators always seem to concentrate on Whites leaving Africa and then trot out the usual reasons; crime; failing health services; overloaded and inefficient bureaucracies, and so on. In fact an even more serious . .more

by Benjamin Blair on August 14 2012, 08:19
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

Non-Residents
This does not take into consideration the large numbers of South Africans who are working in other countries, but who have not officially emigrated. There are thousands of South Africans in the Middle East, most notably, nurses, teachers, and other scarce . .more

by Markza on August 14 2012, 08:29
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

Dromedaries can't spell.
"Quadripple" ROFL. Keep up the entertainment!


by Argus Eye on August 14 2012, 08:41
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

have they considered....
.....The thousands that are returning every year?

by fraud on August 14 2012, 09:15
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

tolerance
If whites find it hard to have blacks as their leaders,friends,neighbors,colleagues and etc. shame on them they r welcome to ship out , that will indeed open more job opportunities for proud SOUTH AFRICANS.

by vivo on August 14 2012, 09:32
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

@Mo KHAN
Typical prejudiced and insular attitude.
People like you that think all professionalism is owned by whites and Indians belong to the old order of racist mind-set.
Under president Zuma there is no doubt that myriad opportunities for development . .more

by . on August 14 2012, 09:33
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

@ Basil
If the ANCpf were to ban emmigration out of SA we'd do it by any means necessary. I for one will be packing up soon and getting the hell out of this facist one party state led by a D*** with the mentality of a brick.

by Eish on August 14 2012, 09:34
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

A Better Survey has been done - using Age Groups
There is a vast gap in SA with white people in the age group young children to 30 year olds significantly missing. Unfortunately I don't remember if it was part of the census or not, but it was discussed on the radio a few years ago.

by Lyndall Beddy on August 14 2012, 09:35
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

Educated Blacks and Browns are also leaving
Black and Brown doctors, nurses etc are also leaving. That child that was killed in the enrollment stampede had both his parents working in London.

by Lyndall Beddy on August 14 2012, 09:38
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

@fraud
My son emigrated to NZ six years ago and is doing very well. He is employed by International Research Limited, the NZ version of our CSIR, who recognized his Qualifications, training and experience and remunerates him accordingly. He has already become a . .more

by James Bell on August 14 2012, 09:52
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

Lies, damn lies and stats
Many Saffers have dual citizenship.


To all intents and purposes they are South Africans, living here, working here, etc. the only difference between them and their next-door neighbour is the legal technicality through quirk of birth. When . .more

by Loudly South African on August 14 2012, 10:27
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

Interesting that a few went back home, HOLLAND? Is the situation that bad?
I cann't imagine being rejected by my own for being so USELESS! 1 important piece of info missing is how many BLACKS either from exile or partners from India or China r now SA residents since '94? Mistake or Apartheid mindset at play here?

by Mute Fool_Makoya on August 14 2012, 10:36
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

Did they bring brains or greed - only history will tell.
Lord Chelmsford of the Battle of Isandhlwana infamy, who finally defeated the Zulus at Ulundi died in 1905. The English were a very small minority then confined to Natal and the Cape. The discovery of Diamonds and Gold attracted thousands if not millions . .more

by Veja on August 14 2012, 11:24
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

@ vivo on August 14 2012, 09:32

>>"If whites find it hard to have blacks as their leaders,friends,neighbors,colleagues and etc....."

Reality is that the liberation movement officially regards "whites" as the "enemy" and therefore finds it hard to have them as "their . .more

by TheDrake on August 14 2012, 11:55
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

@ Vivo, Dottie, Veja
Do you know the story of the goose that lay the golden eggs? Probably not, as it has not been written by the ANC, so why would you care?Don't worry, you don't need to read it, the story is being performed now and here. Do you read it? Do you like the . .more

by Tess on August 14 2012, 12:22
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

Veja
They have now what was or is rightfully theirs.
But by themselves . they would not be able to utilize it. They could not even make a wheel or a fishing rod. BUT they are experts to take what they did not create.

by otto on August 14 2012, 12:23
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

Wish we weren't here
These statistics don't include those South Africans who wish they had left,or wish they still could immigrate. I know the UK has done surveys like this for their own populace. Even the UK, about half of the populace wish they were somewhere else. Must . .more

by Acid Mind on August 14 2012, 12:24
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

@ veja
pray tell how they have turned the tables?

yes, there is the political power but all they are doing with that is stealing and breaking.

is that what you mean? that they can now do as they please, even acting like thievs and . .more

by Eddie on August 14 2012, 12:30
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

brain drain
I am proudly Seffrican, my roots are here since 1689. I am proud of those roots, They gave a wealth to this country, and yes, to Dottie, Vivo, Veja and others like them too, though they hate to admit it. The ANC detests excellence. They are allergic to . .more

by Tess on August 14 2012, 12:32
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

@ Veja on August 14 2012, 11:24
>>"The subjugated majority who provided cheap labour for years have turned the tables and are now in charge of what what rightfully theirs to begin with."

This is another admittance that revenge for perceived injustices in the form of reversed . .more

by TheDrake on August 14 2012, 12:39
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

@ Veja, Dottie,Vivo
Do you really and truly believe your own arguments? Are you really not ashamed of the mess your beloved ANC has made and is still making? Do you care what you look like at all? Do you know?

by Tess on August 14 2012, 12:59
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

Whites only?
How do you conclude that all these emigrants are white? I have black cousins who have emigrated to Australia and Canada! There were almost 400,000 South Africans who left South Africa between 1960 and 1990 - most of them black...

by Selomo on August 14 2012, 13:04
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

Turning the table indeed!
In turning the tables we've become the economic powerhouse of Africa, "leading the continent in industrial output and mineral production and generating a large proportion of Africa's electricity. We have abundant natural resources, well-developed . .more

by Veja on August 14 2012, 13:17
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

Those that flee (1)
After WW2 and the communist take over of Eastern Europe, East Germany installed a communist regime that made life difficult for anybody that did not subscribe to their political and economic philosophy. This resulted in thousands upon thousands of Germans . .more

by James Bell on August 14 2012, 13:45
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

So sad...

South Africa was a great country, disproportionate to its size. Under the ANC, its incompetence, tolerance for crime, corruption and self-interest before country, South Africa will slide downwards faster and faster. As the saying goes - when the . .more

by Dinks on August 14 2012, 13:58
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

Those that flee (2)
We can not change the past but we can to a large extent determine the future.

What I find interesting is some of the statements Veja made.
He complains about the British conquest of the Zulus.
He complains about the pillaging of Africas . .more

by James Bell on August 14 2012, 13:59
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

Those that flee (3)
And the fact that the NATS did not succeed is held against them in perpetuity.

The simple fact of the matter is that the Union of South Africa was not a natural State, it was an artificial creation, similar to the Roman Empire, the German . .more

by James Bell on August 14 2012, 14:10
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

@ Veja on August 14 2012, 13:17
>>"In turning the tables we've become the economic powerhouse of Africa,"

SA was the powerhouse of Africa with the best infrastructure - it is probably only a question of time before Nigeria will overtake SA.

The adoption of the . .more

by TheDrake on August 14 2012, 14:14
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

Low wages are better than no wages!
Which is what tBlacks had before, and since they elders and chiefs refused to allow boys to be educated because "our culture" dictated they look after cows, they grew into illiterate men who could ONLY provide cheap labour!

by Lyndall Beddy on August 14 2012, 14:29
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

60,000 Black Graduates were leaving Africa every year
According to "The Trouble With Africa: Why Foreign Aid is not Working" by Robert Calderisi.

by Lyndall Beddy on August 14 2012, 14:39
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

Huge loss of talent
There will probably never be accurate statistics, but all the evidence points to a massive exodus of talented, qualified and mainly young people with the sorts of skills that are desperately needed here. Whatever the reasons for their leaving, the sad . .more

by William on August 14 2012, 14:40
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

Tjek out Checkers, Pick n Pay, etc....


What sort of colour, age, demographics are represented in your weekly, daily, whatever, visits ?

How does that compare with 5, 10, 15 years ago ?

From the outside looking in, my visits seem to reveal no shortage of older . .more

by John Austin on August 14 2012, 14:57
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

Africa abhors talent
William, the even sadder fact is that Africa loves seeing the brain drain. Africa seems to abhor talent and intellect, she seems to embrace ignorence, poverty, illness, violence and kicks opportunity in the face time and again.

by Tess on August 14 2012, 14:59
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

by . on August 14 2012, 09:33
Fakester

by . on August 14 2012, 15:09
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

And the reverse?
How many UK, US, Australia, Canada have left their countries either for emigration or expat work assignments? More than 588 388 per country would be my bet...

by . on August 14 2012, 15:11
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

Statstastic
This is like good propaganda for the folks left behind? hahahah,. who on earth would bring out such rubbish figures,.. lolol,.. 2006 is a fairly long time back i'd say,.. Codswallop,. whomever released this 'information' wants the remaining whites to . .more

by Flabberghastedliars on August 14 2012, 15:15
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

The Boers, the Africans and the Uitlanders
The Boer escaped British dictatorship and trekked inland looking for better pastures and living on the land. They were a motley crew of freed slaves, semi-nomadic trek boers and poor frontier farmers. After protracted struggle they made peace with the . .more

by Veja on August 14 2012, 15:30
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

Coming Back
I am a South African working in Taiwan for 10 years. I have recently bought a house in South Africa and hope to go back once my home loan is paid off. I am sure I am not the only expat who intends to return.

by Mike on August 14 2012, 15:38
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

@ Tess on August 14 2012, 14:59
>>"William, the even sadder fact is that Africa loves seeing the brain drain. Africa seems to abhor talent and intellect, she seems to embrace ignorence, poverty, illness, violence and kicks opportunity in the face time and again."

An . .more

by TheDrake on August 14 2012, 16:03
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

SA passport holder
If I had the money I would leave tomorrow

by voter on August 14 2012, 16:40
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

@Veja 15:30 (1)
I am almost at a loss for words at what you wrote. It is the way we see it as well (well except for a small detail here and there).

The Afrikaners that sold out were Jannie Smuts and the UP, later to become the PFP, DP and now the DA. After 1902 . .more

by James Bell on August 14 2012, 17:59
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

@Veja 15:30 (2)
... managed to take control of most of Africa, cut it up into artificial states by drawing straight lines on maps, cut nations in half and arbitrarily allocate them in different countries and worst of all, set the indigenous peoples against one another in . .more

by James Bell on August 14 2012, 18:06
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

Too many mstakes
It is very sad that so many white have left and are leaving SA. The Afrikaner unfortunately thought that he was building an "exclusive white state" and did not allow whites to come into this country as he wanted to keep it "pure" for himself. That was . .more

by @ Veja on August 14 2012, 18:06
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

Mistake above. Meant to be @ Veja
Too many 'mistakes" and so many "whites"
(apology for that)

by Wizard on August 14 2012, 18:09
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

@Veja
"Somehow I believe that blacks and Afrikaners will forge a lasting union despite the vicious cynicism of the uitlanders, we have no choice but to live side by side and build a new SA . "

The Afrikaner will never accept you arrogant ineptitude ....

by Boerseun on August 14 2012, 18:12
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

@.
You use big and extreme words like fakester.
If you can prove fakery then you should follow your owbn advice and go to a policeman.
In the meantime you claim ownership of something that cannot be owned.
Who is the faker?

by . on August 14 2012, 18:24
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

by . on August 14 2012, 18:24
Fakester

by . on August 14 2012, 18:31
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

Immigration challenges in Europe
According to 2005 UN data there were more than 50 million immigrants who arrived in Europe from across the globe so knock yourselves out, you'll be competing with Pakistanis, Moroccans, East Europeans for jobs, housing , healthcare and schools for your . .more

by Veja on August 14 2012, 18:44
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

@.
You use big and extreme words like fakester.
If you can prove fakery then you should follow your owbn advice and go to a policeman.
In the meantime you claim ownership of something that cannot be owned.
Who is the faker?

by . on August 14 2012, 19:15
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

Imgrants
They are jst going bck to whr they came frm ,nthng els

by Blck on August 14 2012, 19:53
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

@ Veja on August 14 2012, 18:44
>>"So @TheDrake,.... and the rest of the gang get over yourselves and channel your energies into something meaningful, the future of your children depends on it, be the change you want!"

Please advise what the marginalized white minority should . .more

by TheDrake on August 14 2012, 21:07
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

@TheDrake
This is your country too, start an all inclusive political movement and reclaim your birth right! No use crying it's not going to solve anything.

by Veja on August 14 2012, 21:48
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

Immigration Data
You can argue the statistics till you're blue in the face. What it boils down to is that I miss my friends and family.

by Rico The Sane on August 14 2012, 22:22
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

whites leaving
They must not come back we doing a bad job we need all these foreign white liberals to go fast more jobs for the Africans ang Afrikaners go liberals go to youre mother land

by pang on August 14 2012, 22:41
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

by . on August 14 2012, 19:15
Fakester

by . on August 15 2012, 02:41
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

SA Emigration Stats
I would say the emigration figures are mostly accurate. Certainly, my experience in Aus, NZ and UK where I have asked relevant Govt. depts. would substantiate this. The wild exaggerations come from people in these faraway places who want to rationalize . .more

by Steuart on August 15 2012, 09:58
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

Who are these people that are going back to SA
I've been living in the UK for 11 years now, I would like to think that I have a relatively large circle of Saffa friends, in this circle of friends they also know many saffa's living in the UK. During my time here I know of 3 couples in our circle that . .more

by Markie on August 15 2012, 22:38
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

Oh and another thing...
The reason why there has been a sharp decline in saffa's coming into the UK is due to the British government doing away with the two year working holiday visa. They cottoned on to the fact that many saffa's were using this visa to get into the UK then . .more

by Markie on August 15 2012, 22:45
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

Time to leave Africa
SA population 2011 stats 51.8 million people whites= 4,5 million ost above age 50 years.
Blacks=41 million people.

Uncounted people around 14.6% meaning 7,5 million people many of these live in remote areas. Lastly we have about 10 million . .more

by Heinrich83 on October 31 2012, 14:35
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

South Africans emigrating.
The reality is that many young South Africans of the minority race groups are leaving the country in big numbers. This is mostly due to the ANC govt policies of affirmative action. South África under ANC leadership doe's not allow job and university . .more

by Shabeer Hoosen on March 09 2014, 20:48
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

opinion
The sad fact is that you the white south African are too stupid to adapt to change and develop so you will continue to leave our beautiful country until the day you can accept the fact that our country was messed up by yourself until you accept that you . .more

by darytgyh on October 31 2014, 14:49
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it

opinion
The sad reality that you will never accept is that immigration has nothing to do with govern or race or crime but opinions. It is your lack of adaption of acceptance and of realisation that makes you leave. The fact that you messed up our country. You . .more

by darytg on October 31 2014, 14:57
Find this comment inappropriate? Report it


Name
Subject
Comment