Botswana has experienced one of the most rapid declines in fertility in sub-Saharan Africa. The total fertility rate has fallen from more than 5 children per woman in the mid 1980s to approximately 2.4 in 2013. The fertility reduction has been attributed to a host of factors, including higher educational attainment among women, greater participation of women in the workforce, increased contraceptive use, later first births, and a strong national family planning program. Botswana was making significant progress in several health indicators, including life expectancy and infant and child mortality rates, until being devastated by the HIV/AIDs epidemic in the 1990s.
Today Botswana has the third highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in the world at approximately 22%, however comprehensive and effective treatment programs have reduced HIV/AIDS-related deaths. The combination of declining fertility and increasing mortality rates because of HIV/AIDS is slowing the population aging process, with a narrowing of the youngest age groups and little expansion of the oldest age groups. Nevertheless, having the bulk of its population (about 60%) of working age will only yield economic benefits if the labor force is healthy, educated, and productively employed.
Batswana have been working as contract miners in South Africa since the 19th century. Although Botswana’s economy improved shortly after independence in 1966 with the discovery of diamonds and other minerals, its lingering high poverty rate and lack of job opportunities continued to push workers to seek mining work in southern African countries. In the early 1970s, about a third of Botswana’s male labor force worked in South Africa (lesser numbers went to Namibia and Zimbabwe). Not until the 1980s and 1990s, when South African mining companies had reduced their recruitment of foreign workers and Botswana’s economic prospects had improved, were Batswana increasingly able to find job opportunities at home.
Most Batswana prefer life in their home country and choose cross-border migration on a temporary basis only for work, shopping, visiting family, or tourism. Since the 1970s, Botswana has pursued an open migration policy enabling it to recruit thousands of foreign workers to fill skilled labor shortages. In the late 1990s, Botswana’s prosperity and political stability attracted not only skilled workers but small numbers of refugees from neighboring Angola, Namibia, and Zimbabwe.
|Population, total (millions)||1.38||1.73||2.01||2.25|
|Population growth (annual %)||2.8||1.7||1.8||1.8|
|Surface area (sq. km) (thousands)||581.7||581.7||581.7||581.7|
|Population density (people per sq. km of land area)||2.4||3||3.6||4|
|Poverty headcount ratio at national poverty lines (% of population)||32.9||30.6||19.3||..|
|Poverty headcount ratio at $1.90 a day (2011 PPP) (% of population)||34.8||29.8||18.2||..|
|Income share held by lowest 20%||3||2.3||2.8||..|
|Life expectancy at birth, total (years)||62||49||60||67|
|Fertility rate, total (births per woman)||4.5||3.4||2.9||2.7|
|Adolescent fertility rate (births per 1,000 women ages 15-19)||99||65||43||32|
|Contraceptive prevalence, any methods (% of women ages 15-49)||33||44||53||..|
|Births attended by skilled health staff (% of total)||77||99||99||100|
|Mortality rate, under-5 (per 1,000 live births)||54||84||53||41|
|Prevalence of underweight, weight for age (% of children under 5)||..||10.7||11.2||..|
|Immunization, measles (% of children ages 12-23 months)||87||91||96||97|
|Primary completion rate, total (% of relevant age group)||88||94||98||69|
|School enrollment, primary (% gross)||103.1||108||109.4||105.4|
|School enrollment, secondary (% gross)||39||76||78||..|
|School enrollment, primary and secondary (gross), gender parity index (GPI)||1||1||1||..|
|Prevalence of HIV, total (% of population ages 15-49)||7||26.9||23||21.9|
|Forest area (sq. km) (thousands)||137.2||125.4||113.5||108.4|
|Terrestrial and marine protected areas (% of total territorial area)||..||..||..||29.1|
|Annual freshwater withdrawals, total (% of internal resources)||4.7||8.1||..||..|
|Urban population growth (annual %)||11||3.3||2.2||2.3|
|Energy use (kg of oil equivalent per capita)||884||1,039||1,069||1,253|
|CO2 emissions (metric tons per capita)||1.96||2.19||2.33||3.24|
|Electric power consumption (kWh per capita)||718||1,099||1,540||1,749|
|Net migration (thousands)||18||21||15||15|