Working Life Tables for South Africa, 1996-2001

Martin E Palamuleni


This paper presents the results of the construction of a working life tables for males and females in South Africa using the 1996 and 2001 population censuses. The main objective of the paper is to illustrate the use of life table analysis in the examination of the labour force using South African data. The study indicates that based on the 1996 census a South African male who survives to age 15 is expected to live 40.9 years, out of which 35.3 years are expected to be spent in active status and the remaining 5.3 years in inactive years. Similar values for South African females are 49.9 years, 37.9 years and 12 years, respectively. Using 2001 census the study indicates that a South African male who survives to age 15 was expected to live 43.9 years of which 36 years will be in active and 8 years will be inactive whereas a South African female was expected to live 50 years of which 34 years will be active and 16 years will be inactive. It was estimated that out of the total number of males who left the working population in 1996, 50 percent left because of death and another 50 percent left for other reasons other than death. The corresponding figures for females are 28 percent and 62 percent respectively. In 2001, 64 percent of the males left the labour force due to deaths whereas 36 percent left due to other causes. Similar figures for females are 45 percent and 55 percent respectively. These figures suggest an increased proportion of men and women are leaving the labour force due to deaths. This means that mortality takes a heavy toll of the seemingly short economically active life. Probably, this is a reflection of the devastating impact of HIV/AIDS on the working population.


Labour force; Unemployment; Life tables; Working life tables; South Africa

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ISSN 2308-7854 (online); ISSN 0850-5780 (print)

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