Youth migration, livelihood prospects and demographic dividend: A comparison of the Census 2011 and Agincourt Health and Demographic Surveillance System in the rural northeast of South Africa

  • Mark A Collinson
  • Michael J White University of the Witwatersrand
  • Carren Ginsburg
  • F. Xavier Gómez-Olivé
  • Kathleen Kahn
  • Stephen Tollman
Keywords: Demographic dividend, Youth, Employment, Internal migration, South Africa, Census, Health and Demographic Surveillance System


The 2011 South African national census shows a cohort of young adults comprising an increasing share of the population. This finding is borne out in longitudinal data from the Agincourt Health and Demographic Surveillance System (HDSS). This primarily descriptive paper uses the Agincourt HDSS to examine the migration, employment and unemployment patterns in young adults. The study reveals high levels of temporary labour migration linking rural areas to metropolitan areas and secondary urban places. The type of work conducted by young adults in the Agincourt population is predominantly unskilled labour for both sexes. However, there is some evidence of female employment increasing in more educated sectors. Across all working ages there is pronounced unemployment, but the main pressure is felt by the younger adult population. Education and skills development for both sexes should be strengthened to support the country’s efforts to vastly improve labour force participation amongst the youth.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Mark A Collinson
University of the Witwatersrand