Brain drain from South Africa

A decade-and-a-half after the end of apartheid, violent crime is pushing more and more whites out of South Africa. Exactly how many are leaving is impossible to say, but large white South Africa diasporas, both English- and Afrikaans-speaking, have sprouted in Britain, Australia, New Zealand and many cities in North America, says the Economist.

According to the South African Institute of Race Relations, 800,000 or more whites have emigrated since 1995, out of the four million-plus who were there when apartheid formally ended the year before. But not all South African émigrés are white: skilled blacks can be found in jobs all over the world. Indeed, a recent survey found that the desire to emigrate is pretty even across races, says the Economist:

  • Last year, 42 per cent of coloured (mixed-raced) South Africans, 38 per cent of blacks and 30 per cent of those of Indian descent were thinking of leaving, compared with 41 per cent of whites.

  • This is a big leap from 2000, when the numbers were 12 per cent, 18 per cent, 26 per cent and 22 per cent respectively.

  • But it is the whites, by and large, who have the money, skills, contracts and sometimes passports they need to start a life outside – and who leave the bigger skills and tax gap behind.

  • Violent crime is the one factor cited by all races and across all professions when people are asked why they leave; police figures put the murder rate in 2007-08 at 38 per 100,000 and rape at more than 75 per 100,000.

    Furthermore, this flight is affecting all business sectors in the country, says the Economist. About half a million posts are vacant in government service; not a single department has its full complement of professionals. Local municipalities and public hospitals are also desperately short of trained people. Nearly 25,000 teachers are leaving the profession every year, and only 7,000 are entering.

    Source: Editorial, Between staying and going, The Economist, September 25, 2008.

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    FMF Policy Bulletin/ 14 October 2008
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