By R. Dorrington, T.A. Moultrie and I.M. Timaeus, Centre for Actuarial Research, University of Cape Town, 2004.
Estimation of mortality in South Africa has always been problematic. While reasonably accurate life tables have been computed for the Coloured, Indian and White population groups, mortality rates for the African population, and the South African population as a whole, have always been fairly approximate. Nonetheless it would appear from the official life tables and estimates of mortality derived from reconstruction of census populations that mortality in South Africa fell for many decades prior to the early to mid—1980s.
The release of the 2001 census data provides an opportunity to update our estimates of mortality and decide if these past trends have continued through the intercensal period and, in particular, measure whether mortality has increased in line with predictions of the impact of HIV on mortality.
The overall conclusion must be that the data on mortality collected by the 2001 census are disappointing and that the editing of those data does little to improve them. In the case of children the data are so poor as to be useless for deriving reliable estimates of childhood mortality. As far as adults are concerned, the data are more useful.
This report was prepared for Statistics South Africa.
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