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KwaZulu-Natal north coast:. Picture: SUPPLIED
KwaZulu-Natal north coast:. Picture: SUPPLIED

Migration is an emotive subject in SA, with wide-ranging social and economic implications. Unfortunately, your recent article on the subject relies on flaky evidence and produces misleading conclusions (“Gauteng homeowners leaving province in droves”, January 16).

For example, migration always involves population flows in both directions, so just focusing on those leaving Gauteng ignores those who are moving in. The most reliable census of population data shows that Gauteng is consistently the fastest-growing province in the country because of net inward migration. This applies to all socioeconomic groups, from homeowners to the unemployed. It reflects the relative size and dynamism of the Gauteng economy.

The rates of inward and outward migration fluctuate from time to time with changing economic conditions in different regions and events such as the pandemic. The potential for remote working has increased over the past two years, enabling affluent professionals to move to coastal areas that offer a more attractive lifestyle. However, we have little idea of the real scale of this, and whether it is merely a temporary shift or a more enduring change in work-life patterns.

We should be particularly wary of relying on anecdotal evidence and unsubstantiated claims made by estate agents and property developers, whose job it is to encourage the buying and selling of houses and to talk up the prospects of their latest projects.

Prof Ivan Turok
NRF research chair: city-region economies, University of the Free State; distinguished research fellow: inclusive economic development, Human Sciences Research Council

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