Almost half of the country’s top earners considering leaving, writes Antony Sguazzin,
About half of South Africa’s top earners and university graduates are considering emigration as citizens lose faith in the country’s future, the Social Research Foundation said, citing a survey it conducted.
Out of 3,204 registered voters the Johannesburg-based research group surveyed in July, 53% of university graduates and 43% of those who earned more than 20,000 rand ($1,138) a month may leave the country, according to the findings. Overall, 23% of those surveyed said they may look to live in another country.
Confidence in South Africa’s future has fallen after more than a decade when average economic growth failed to match the increase in population, meaning the country’s citizens have been getting poorer. The country has been wracked by corruption scandals in recent years and regular power outages since 2014. More than 350 people died in a spate of looting and arson in July 2021.
The number of those considering emigration “rises with social and economic status,” the SRF said in a statement accompanying the survey results on Thursday. Almost a third of urban South Africans are mulling leaving compared with just 11% of those living in rural areas.
“People between the ages of 25 and 40 are the most likely age groups to be considering emigration,” according to the foundation. “The data is consistent with the foundation’s past findings on confidence in South Africa’s future.”
If an increasing number of South Africa’s richest people leave the country, the number of those paying tax, which supports welfare payments to almost a third of South Africans and other government services, will plunge, the SRF said.
“South Africa is vulnerable to surrendering near half of its top skills base and income earners, and by extension much of its remaining tax base,” the SRF said.
The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 1.7 percentage points.