Johannesburg - South Africa's population is expected to grow at a decreased rate between 2010 and 2040 due to the impact of HIV/Aids and lower fertility rates, a survey released by the SA Institute for Race Relations (SAIRR) on Tuesday predicts.
"Between 2010 and 2030, South Africa's population will grow, although at a decreasing rate each year," an extract from the 2009/10 South Africa Survey shows.
By 2030 the population is expected to be 53.81 million, anticipated to drop to 53.74 million by 2035, and to 53.28 million by 2040.
This is based on data gleaned from the Institute of Futures Research at the University of Stellenbosch.
The SAIRR said in South Africa the number of deaths per year is making up for an increasingly higher proportion of births.
In 1985, deaths were 25% of births. The Actuarial Society of South Africa said this would increase to 87% of births by 2021.
Thuthukani Ndebele, a researcher at the institute, said: "If this trend continues, there will soon be more deaths than births in South Africa. It is evident that the HIV/Aids pandemic has resulted in an increasing number of deaths."
Ndebele said these deaths are mostly among people in the child-bearing age group, which will result in decreasing numbers of births.
Between 2001 and 2010, South Africa's fertility rate slipped from 2.86 to 2.38 births per woman.
By 2040, the fertility rate will have dropped to 1.98 births per woman - lower than the replacement rate of 2.1 births per woman needed for the population to reproduce itself.
Ndebele said the lower fertility rates were related to better access to education and contraceptives, which results in women having fewer children.
"A combination of increasing deaths as a result of the HIV/Aids pandemic, as well as lower fertility rates will result in population shrinkage after 2030," Ndebele said.
"This can be positive as there will be less strain on resources in South Africa. However, it will also be negative, as there will be fewer people to contribute to the economy and its internal consumer markets."