Data finds fewer babies born in South Africa

Robert Laing

Robert Laing

South Africans are having fewer babies, data released by Statistics South Africa yesterday showed.

The number of births recorded by the Department of Home Affairs hit a peak of 1,7 million in 2003, but then started to slide down to 1,3 million last year.

The last few years' decline followed 11 baby-boom years which saw the number of birth registrations more than triple from 1992's half-a-million.

Stats SA said this dip in birth registrations can partly be blamed on more accurate counting. The 1991 to 2003 period saw many births registered in years after they occurred. Only since 2005 have most births been registered in the year of the baby's birth.

The data indicates most South African babies are born to young, single mothers. Details of who the father is appeared on less than 32percent of registration forms.

The highest number of births was registered among mothers aged 20 to 24 (28 percent), followed by those aged 25 to 29 (22 percent). About 15 percent of registered births were to mothers aged 15 to 19 and 5,4 percent for mothers aged 40 years and above.

Though Gauteng has the largest population, it ranked third in the number of birth registrations last year. More than a quarter of all births registered in 2006 were in KwaZulu-Natal, with Eastern Cape at 17 percent.

Stats SA also published the general statistics for South Africa yesterday, placing the current population at 47,85 million.

The birth rate - the number of babies per 1000 people - declined from 32 in 2001 to 28 last year.