About half of South Africa’s top earners and university graduates are considering emigration as citizens lose faith in the country’s future, the Foundation for Social Research said in a survey it conducted.

Of the 3,204 registered voters polled by the research team in Johannesburg in July, 53% of university graduates and 43% of those earning more than 20,000 rand a month could leave the country, according to the results. Overall, 23% of respondents said they might want to live in another country.

Confidence in South Africa’s future has fallen after more than a decade in which average economic growth has not kept pace with population growth, meaning the country’s citizens have become poorer. In recent years, the country has been plagued by corruption scandals and regular blackouts since 2014. More than 350 people died as a result of looting and arson in July 2021.

The number of those considering emigration “increases with social and economic status,” the SRF said in a statement accompanying Thursday’s survey results.

“People between the ages of 25 and 40 are the most likely age group to consider emigrating,” the foundation notes.

“The data is consistent with the foundation’s past findings about confidence in South Africa’s future.”

As more of South Africa’s wealthiest people leave the country, the number of people paying the tax that supports welfare payments for nearly a third of South Africans and other government services will shrink, SRF said.

“South Africa is vulnerable to losing nearly half of its top skill base and income earners, and consequently much of its remaining tax base,” SRF said.

The poll’s margin of error was plus or minus 1.7 percentage points.

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