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SA population rises to 56.5 million - Stats SA

In its 2017 mid-year population estimates, the agency said the growth rate of elderly people, those aged 60 years or more, showed the highest rate of increase at 3%.

The South African flag. Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa has an estimated population of 56.5 million people, up 1.61% from 2016, Statistics South Africa said on Monday, piling pressure on the government in an economy that is in recession.

In its 2017 mid-year population estimates, the agency said the growth rate of elderly people, those aged 60 years or more, showed the highest rate of increase at 3%, while nearly a third of the population is aged younger than 15 years.

In February, the National Treasury said it would spend nearly R900 billion on social services, more than two-thirds of total government expenditure, with social services such as old-age, child support and unemployment grants accounting for R180 billion.

Africa's most industrialised economy has been downgraded to "junk" by two out of three major ratings agencies, while unemployment stand at around 28%, a 14-year high, and the economy slid into technical recession in March.

Analysts expect Treasury to struggle to raise the tax revenue it needs to keep paying welfare grants.