Levels and determinants of migration in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

  • William Muhwava University of KwaZulu-Natal
  • Victoria Hosegood University of KwaZulu-Natal & London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, United Kingdom
  • Makandwe Nyirenda University of KwaZulu-Natal
  • Kobus Herbst University of KwaZulu-Natal
  • Marie-Louise Newell University of KwaZulu-Natal & University College London Institute of Child Health, United Kingdom
Keywords: Migration, In-migration, Out-migration, Origin, Destination, Residency


In this paper migration levels, trends and patterns in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa are examined, using data from the Africa Centre Demographic Information System covering the period 2001 to 2007. At any point in time about a third of members in households were non-resident. Approximately 7 percent of the midyear population migrated annually. Although overall the number of females migrating roughly equalled that of men, males were more likely to migrate for long, and females for short distances. The main reasons for migration were accommodation, employment and education in both sexes. The pattern of migration by age showed two peaks: the first related to movement of young children (for schooling and migration of parents), while the second involved young adults between 20 and 34 and (for employment). Controlling for marital status, never married people were more likely to migrate externally than those who are currently married or widowed/divorced. While uneducated people were more likely to migrate into and out of the area, those with high levels of education were more likely to migrate out of the area. Although people living in large households were more likely to migrate, household socio-economic status measured by asset ownership was not statistically significantly associated with external migration. In conclusion, the most significant factors associated with the high levels of migration in this rural population were age, marital status and education.

Author Biography

William Muhwava, University of KwaZulu-Natal
Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies.