Population policy in South Africa

Stud Fam Plann. 1993 Jan-Feb;24(1):31-9.


This report examines the current state and likely future directions of population policy in South Africa with particular reference to family planning activities set against the background of apartheid and its demise. In the apartheid era, population policy was perceived by most blacks as an instrument for the control of their number and movements. Recently, policy has been adjusted by the national Population Development Program in response to the changing sociopolitical situations in the country. A national post-apartheid population policy is likely to retain many of the components of this new program. However, a future nonracist and democratic society would probably invite a review of population activities in the country and raise wider issues concerning rationales, organization, and strategies for the delivery of family planning in South Africa.

PIP: Prior to the introduction of apartheid in South Africa in the 1940-50 period, the total fertility rate of Whites was 3.5 children per woman, compared with an average of 6.5 for the other racial groups. In the 1960s, family planning services were offered, and the state paid for the cost of contraceptives. In 1974, a national family planning program was initiated to provide clinical, counseling, and information services. Recently, policy has been adjusted by the national Population Development Program (PDP) which was established in 1984. PDP objectives are: 1) to stabilize the national population at 80 million people by the end of the next century by using family planning services; 2) to accelerate equal social and economic development of all population groups are increasing education, manpower training, the economic productivity of women, job creation, and adequate housing; 3) to achieve a national total fertility rate of 2.1 children per woman by the year 2010; 4) to promote basic good health among all population groups by stressing primary health care; and 5) to achieve orderly geographical distribution of the population in the rural areas. There are 3800 family planning clinics offering modern contraceptives services at 60,200 points. These services points include infertility treatment as well as education about reproductive health, HIV/AIDS, and other sexually transmitted diseases. The 1982, the Black Fertility Survey showed that among ever-married Blacks, 43.2% and 40.2% of contraceptive users aged 15-19 and 20-29, respectively, used injectable contraceptives. In 1987-90, oral contraceptive use was about the same for Black and Colored women but 20% of Colored women were sterilized vs. only about 4% of Black women. An assessment showed a decline in the national total fertility rate from 4.6 children per woman in 1986 to 4.2 in 1990. The African National Congress (ANC) is interested in integrating social and economic programs with women's development and family planning programs. ANC Policy Guidelines stress Sex Education and family planning as part of a future national health program and post-apartheid population policy.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Developing Countries*
  • Family Planning Services / trends*
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Population Growth*
  • Pregnancy
  • Public Policy*
  • Race Relations*
  • South Africa