• Kwabena Kyei University of Venda
  • Rotondwa Ramuya University of Venda



fertility, household survey, reliable, replacement level, trend


Relevance of the research: The study of fertility and mortality is of great importance because it shows the dynamics of the population and the need for effective planning measures required to be put in place to avert catastrophe. It is therefore important for South Africa also to check whether its fertility is heading toward the same trajectory seen in these developed countries. Purpose of the article: This study seeks to determine the level and trend of the fertility in South Africa using four provinces, Mpumalanga, Kwazulu-Natal, North West and Limpopo, for the years 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, as case studies. Thus, the study aims to determine: (a) Whether the fertility rate was changing in the provinces during the years 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. (b) What is the trend? And; (c) Whether the fertility is falling below replacement level or not. Scientific novelty of the article: The study shows that fertility in South Africa has indeed declined with some provinces having the level of fertility below replacement level. The decline seen in this study is mainly due to the fertility of the black majority population. The high population growth rate was mainly due to the fertility of the blacks, therefore, when recent fertility levels in the country are low, the implication is that the fertility of the blacks has gone down, and in fact this is what this study is showing, and advises that unless measures are put in place, the fertility of the blacks or fertility in South Africa will go down below replacement level. Fertility levels have declined worldwide, including South Africa. But the extent to which South Africa’s fertility has declined is not very clear because data from two previous censuses on fertility and mortality were very poor. South Africa (SA) had reliable data on the White population of the country, but with the new dispensation since 1994, data collection, especially from the black population that forms majority, has not been easy. The quality of data from the black population that accounts for over 80 percent of the population has not been good and reliable, probably because of the low level of education of this segment. Fertility and mortality data from the two previous censuses, 2001 and 2011, were not reliable when compared with data from vital statistics and national population register. Thus, estimates made from these censuses’ data on these events are questionable. South Africa, however, has data from the General Household Surveys (GHS), and this study uses data from these surveys to attempt to find the level and trend of fertility. The GHS is an annual household survey which measures the living circumstances of South African households. Demographic and statistical methods are used to calculate measures, like the UN age ratio scores, to assess the quality of the data from four provinces, namely, North West, Kwazulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces, for the period 2011 to 2014. The four provinces are selected as a case study to compare rural and urban fertility characters. The results show that the quality of the survey data is fairly good and reliable with KwaZulu-Natal province having the most reliable data. The fertility levels were lowest in the more urbanized and educated provinces of Kwazulu-Natal and North West and highest in the less educated and rural provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga. The study further shows that fertility in all the provinces has been declining since 2012, with the gross reproduction rate falling below replacement level; with implication that the fertility of the black population is declining fast. The decline in the fertility level could be attributed to quite a number of factors including education, urbanization, and improvement in primary health care. Because of the sharp decline in the fertility level in the recent years, the study calls for proper policy intervention to avoid population “extinction”.


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Author Biographies

Kwabena Kyei, University of Venda

PhD (Faculty member, former Chair of Statistics)

Rotondwa Ramuya, University of Venda

PhD Candidate in Statistics (Graduate Assistant)




How to Cite

Kyei, K., & Ramuya, R. (2021). DETERMINATION OF THE LEVEL AND TREND OF FERTILITY IN FOUR PROVINCES IN SOUTH AFRICA. Demography and Social Economy, 45(3), 41–52.



Demographic Processes