Fact check: Do 8 professionals leave SA for every 1 who arrives?

Fact check: Do 8 professionals leave SA for every 1 who arrives?

- A radio show on South Africa's 'brain drain' heard how for every professional that moves here, eight others move out of the country

- This would result in a shortage of skilled professionals and hinder the economy as it strives for growth

- Briefly.co.za takes a look at the facts behind the claim to see if there is any truth behind it

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Johannes Wessels, director of the Enterprise Observatory of South Africa, recently told Radio 702 host Bruce Whitfield that SA is suffering from a 'brain drain'.

This refers to the departure of skilled professionals from their home country on a long-term basis, and Wessels claims the situation is dire:

“For every one professional immigrating to South Africa, eight professionals are leaving our shores.”

Briefly.co.za takes a closer look at this claim and the facts behind it to determine if our professionals are in fact abandoning ship for greener shores:

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Official focus lacking on emigration

Wessels had noted that this statistic came from a 2017 paper from the Department of Home Affairs on international migration.

In this report, the department notes that this is an area that hadn't received much attention in policies, citing statistics on emigration.

However, the statistics in question had been for the 1989 to 2003 period, which was a time of great upheaval in South Africa.

While the paper had noted emigration was growing at 9% per year, there is no data available to substantiate this in 2019.

Difficulty pinning down the numbers

The true number of people leaving South Africa for good has been difficult to accurately pin down.

Statistics South Africa, the official data agency, claims that the number of professionals that left during 1989 and 2003 stood at 130,965.

Meanwhile, the original statistics used in the department's paper had claimed that 521,571 South Africans had left.

The researchers of the paper themselves told Africa Check that it would be far from appropriate to use statistics from this uncertain period in our history to determine modern trends some thirty years later.

Estate agencies and schools

So where does this notion come from? A popular method used to report on this matter is numbers put forward by schools and estate agents on people who opted to sell their homes and remove children from school to leave South Africa.

However, this does not necessarily reflect accurate numbers as it would be impossible to verify if the people in question had in fact left the country.

In conclusion, it was not possible to gain a precise number of the people leaving South Africa or entering it. Despite this, the original claim made by Wessels was made using outdated data and therefore is unlikely to be true.

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Source: Briefly.co.za

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