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Using election registration data to measure migration trends in South Africa

J Maritz
P Kok


Migration is critical for policy agendas and government planning as it changes the demographic composition of towns, cities and regions – this requires adjustments to service and infrastructure provision. To develop suitable policy responses, reliable, comparable and timely information is required. Obvious sources of migration data are the national census and household and labour surveys. Socio-economic data have not dealt well with migration. A recent CSIR research project, Spatial and Temporal Evidence for Planning in South Africa1 (StepSA), explored the use of voter registration information as an alternative source of migration data. Anonymised voter registration data were provided by the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa for several consecutive elections covering a 12-year period. The data, once spatialised (and related to a single set of voting districts), could then be processed to extract movement trends between different election periods. This article describes the process applied and the initial analyses conducted.