Fewer deaths in SA than any time since 2001 (and 4 other insights from Stats SA)

1. Fewer South Africans died last year than any time since 2001, despite there being 8-million more of us.

A total of 458 933 South Africans died in 2013, according to the latest Statistics South Africa Mortality Report. This represents a decrease of 6.5 percent on the figure for 2012.

In 2001, out of a population of 45-million, there were 455 656 recorded deaths. Today South Africa’s population is just below 53-million.

The number of recorded deaths peaked at 613 691 in 2006 after which it started to decline.

2. Flu kills more South Africans than HIV and TB is the most common natural cause of death (and it’s disease, not crime, that’s killing us)

Natural causes accounted for 89.7 percent of deaths with tuberculosis (TB) the principal cause of death (8.8 percent) followed by flu and pneumonia (5.2 percent) and HIV (5.1 percent).

Flu and pneumonia was the only natural cause of death common for all age groups.

3. Deaths from non-natural causes are at its highest level since 2001.

Non-natural deaths made up 10.3 percent of deaths; the highest since 2001 when it was at 11.1 percent.

The leading cause of non-natural death involves accidental injury; accounting for 56.4 percent followed by those of undetermined intent (16 percent), transport incidents (12.1 percent) and assaults (10.6 percent).

What is not clear is that the number of assaults that result in death is given as 5019 while the South African Police reported murders in 2013 as 16 259.

4. The percentage of total deaths comprised of infants is declining.

The percentage of total deaths comprised of infants was 6.8 percent in 2009 after which it consistently declined to 5.5 percent in 2012. The figure for 2013 is up slightly to 5.7 percent.

5. The median age at death continues to rise.

The median age at death increased between 2005 and 2013 with more pronounced increases from 2009.

In 2004 the median age at death was 42.6 while in 2013 it stood at 52.5. The median age for women in 2004 was 41.7; in 2013 it stoood at 55.9.

Median age is the age that divides a population into two numerically equal groups - that is, half the people are younger than this age and half are older. In other words, in 2013 half of South Africans died before the age of 52.5 and half died after it.

Click here for the full report.

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