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An historical analysis of changes in the population patterns of Indian South Africans : 1860-1991.

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This study examines the quantitative aspects of the demographic characteristics of the Indian population of South Africa over a period of one-hundred-and-thirty years, from 1860 to 1991, within the framework of demographic transition theory. It informs us about a distinctive group of people within a country of mixed races and presents a hitherto uncollated historical account of the demographic changes of a small, specific, minority group, in a racially mixed society, within a developing country. Its emphasis lies in tracing the historical evolution and development of a demographically unbalanced population to one that today may be regarded as falling within the general demographic classification of an 'ageing' population. It is set within the framework of demographic transition theory and a discussion of the formation of this theory and its usefulness today is included in this work. Changes in the vital rates of mortality and fertility are examined in detail and an in-depth look is taken at changes in the age and sex structure over time. Apart from a detailed account of the patterns and numbers of indenture during the years 1860 to 1911, the core of the analysis is contained in three major chapters dealing with population structure, mortality and fertility. The bulk of the primary data was obtained from the results of twelve censuses between 1891 and 1991, inclusive. During the relatively short time-span of Indian settlement in South Africa, considerable demographic changes have taken place in this population. This study traces the progression of the population far beyond its original, unbalanced structure, which arose from the practice of indentured labour. After this practice was abandoned, growth and structural change took place almost entirely by natural increase, the balance of births and deaths. The population passed through the youthful, expanding stage of development to a structure that today resembles, in many ways, those to be found in most developed, industrialised countries of the world - with a slow rate of growth, a decreasing proportion of children under 15 years of age and an increasing proportion aged 60+ years. The social and economic challenges which face the Indian community today are very different from those encountered in the previous 130 years of settlement in this country and can be directly related to the extensive demographic changes that have occurred over this period. These demographic changes and their occurrence over time form the essence of this treatise.


Thesis (Ph.D.)-University of Natal,Durban, 2002.


Indians--South Africa--Population., Theses--Environmental science., South Africa--Population.