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Internal migration to the Gauteng Province

Morne Oosthuizen, Pranushka Naidoo

University of Cape Town

Development Policy Research Unit, Working Paper 04/88

December 2004

Posted with acknowledgements to the Development Policy Research Unit, University of Cape Town
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Gauteng, South Africa’s economic powerhouse, has long been dependent on immigration to supply its labour requirements, a phenomenon deeply rooted in the province’s early economic history and the development of mining and heavy industry. Although migration has contributed to the development of the province, it also poses challenges to the provincial government partly through the added burden on state-financed services and programmes.

In this context, this study aims to quantify and describe migration to and migrant labour in Gauteng by using the 2001 Census and the September 2002 Labour Force Survey. South African immigrants to the province (or in-migrants) were defined in one of two ways: individuals who were born in South Africa, but outside of Gauteng, or individuals whose most recent move in the 1996-2001 period was to Gauteng from one of the other eight provinces. In-migrants are described in terms of their demographics and educational and employment status. Further, in-migrants’ access to public services including electricity and water and other indicators of their living standards, such as housing, were analysed. As far as possible, the analysis compared in-migrants to non-migrants and intra-Gauteng migrants in order to provide insight into special benefits or challenges that in-migrant households may present. The Labour Force Survey module on migrant labour allowed the profiling of migrant labourers and the approximation of economic links between Gauteng and other provinces as represented by remittances.

The study found that a large proportion of Gauteng residents were born outside the province, or moved into the province in the inter-census period, indicating a relatively mobile population. Although in-migrants constitute approximately half of the population with post-matric qualifications, they are overall less educated than the rest of the Gauteng population and are more often engaged in relatively lower skilled occupations and sectors. It is concluded that significant levels of in-migration are likely to continue for at least the medium-term, with in-migrants posing important challenges specifically in the areas of health, housing and infrastructure provision. Through remittances, the economic situation of the province and of migrant workers may also have important consequences in the rural areas of the provinces of Limpopo, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga.


Gauteng, while the smallest province geographically, is the second most populous after KwaZulu-Natal and, in 2001, was home to 8.8 million people. The province is also the economic powerhouse of South Africa, accounting for around one-third of Gross Domestic Product in 2001 (Statistics SA 2003a: 53). Production in value terms is concentrated in Manufacturing (20.2 percent), Finance, Real Estate and Business Services (20.0 percent) and General Government Services (17.4 percent).

South Africa’s political history and the mining roots of Gauteng’s economic development have resulted in the province’s heavy reliance on immigration to provide labour. Thus, immigration from outside South Africa’s borders as well as from within the country itself, have played an integral role in the development of Gauteng, particularly since the discovery of mineral wealth. Today, immigrants continue to play an important role in fulfilling provincial labour requirements, with in excess of one-third of the SA-born provincial population having been born outside of the province and a further 5 percent having been born outside of the country altogether. Consequently, in 2001, immigrants constituted approximately two-fifths of the provincial population. The current rate of immigration to Gauteng is rapid, with a net increase in the number of SA-born immigrants of around 430 000 during the inter-census period of 1996-2001, and this has contributed to the province having the highest population growth rate in the country.

The aim of this study, commissioned by the Office of the Premier in the Gauteng Provincial Government in 2004, was to quantify and describe internal immigrants to Gauteng through Census 2001 and other household surveys and try to assess the impact of such migration on the province. The study formed one half of a larger report that also analysed cross-border immigration to Gauteng. Section provides a brief description of the data sources utilised in the study. Section investigates the extent of migration to Gauteng as reflected in the 2001 Census and describes migrants according to various demographic and socioeconomic variables. Further, access to public services as well as various other indicators of living standards are analysed. In section , we profile migrant workers based on the Labour Force Survey of September 2002. Finally, some implications of migration to Gauteng are presented in section . Throughout the study, the particular focus has been on migrants’ ability to support themselves and possible stresses that migration to Gauteng may place on provincial resources.

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