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Guyana’s population declines slightly

Deputy Census Officer, Vanessa Profitt presenting the preliminary findings of the 2012 Census report.

The population of Guyana has recorded a marginal reduction of 3,339 persons as the preliminary results of the Guyana population and housing census 2012, released by the Guyana National Bureau of Statistics revealed that the population count of 751,223 at the previous census, September 15, 2002, was down to a count of 747,884 persons as at Census day, September 15, 2012.

The preliminary report looks at the broad parameters of the population. A more detailed analysis of the findings, including of the major parameters such as ethnic breakdown of the population, and as well the composition of the foreign-born population is still be computed, but is expected to be completed and published in the second quarter of 2015.   

The coastal regions which include the capital city continue to be the most populated, with Region Four remaining the most populated, Deputy Census Officer, Vanessa Profitt revealed, in her presentation of the preliminary findings.

The Coastland Regions; 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and the city comprise 89.1 percent of the population, whilst the population of the hinterland regions (1, 7, 8 and 9), constituted only 10.9 percent of the total population.

Region Four, constituted about 41.9 percent of the population, followed by Regions 6 and 3, for almost equal proportions of 14.6 percent and 14.4 percent respectively of the population.

More females than males

According to the figures in the preliminary report, females outnumber males in Guyana as of Census Day September 15, 2012, more particularly in Region 4, Profitt said.

 Males accounted for 49.8 percent (372,547) and females registered 50.2 percent (375,337) of the population, thus giving an estimated sex ratio of 99 males per every 100 females in the 2012 census as compared to an almost equal number of males and females (100.2) according to the 2002 results, Profitt stated.

She said however, that sex ratio was high for all the hinterland regions (well in excess of 100) while in contrast, the sex ratio was low in the Coastland regions, particularly Region 4 with an estimate of 96 males to every 100 females.

About 20 percent increase in buildings in last decade

The 2012 census, in addition to being a total enumeration of the population, also provided an inventory of the building stocks, with the preliminary results showing an increase in building stocks in the country (buildings used for the purpose of residential, commercial, social and, religious activities etc,) increase in dwelling units, the occupancy of dwelling units, but a decrease in the family size residing in the units.

Profitt revealed that the preliminary housing census 2012 shows the building stocks in Guyana increased from 187,696 in 2002 to 219,509 in 2012. This represented an increase of 16.9 percent or an absolute increase of 31,813, she said.

There was also an increase in dwelling units with a total of 221,741 recorded, giving an overall increase of 8.1 percent in comparison to the 2002 census results, which had a total of 205,117 dwelling units in the country. Moreover, of the221,741 dwelling units, 214,999 were occupied dwelling units representing 97 percent occupancy of all dwelling units. The remaining 3.0 percent were either vacant or closed dwelling units, indicating a higher degree of occupancy when compared to the closed and vacant dwellings in the 2002 Census which accounted for 8.8 percent of the total recorded dwellings.

The 2012 Census also recorded 210,124 households, 27,515 households more than the 2002 Census, according to the preliminary report, representing an overall increase of 15.1 percent over 10 years (2002 Census). However whilst the national average household size was 4.1 persons per in 2002, it is estimated as 3.5 persons per household for the 2012 Census.

 
Challenges

Meanwhile, Chief Statistician and Census Officer Lennox Benjamin reported that the Census 2012 was not without challenges, with vast land areas to cover and the less than ideal quota of skilled manpower. The census takers also had to deal with the challenge of being impeded from gaining access to gated communities, and problem making contacts with persons. There was also the challenge of population diversity, where the issue of language barrier posted a problem to the census takers. There were instances where the Bureau had to seek assistance from the Chinese Association and the Brazilian Cultural organisation in terms of executing the census among their population, Benjamin said.

In spite of these, the Bureau has not found any significant discrepancies in the initial data collected and those collected in the post numeration period, Demographic Consultant Sonkarley Beaie reported.  The phase of post-enumeration checks encompassing checks and verification of some of the data already collected and enumeration of those households which for several reasons could not be contacted during the enumeration phase or were initially missed was concluded on June 30, 2013.
One possible factor going forward that the Bureau will have to strengthen are the laws and regulation as it relates to census taking, Benjamin said. The Bureau is also looking to have its staff further trained in Portuguese in acknowledgement of the growing composition of Brazilians in the country.  Meanwhile Benjamin also debunked the notions that Bureau has taken too long to compile and release the data and that findings will not be reflective of the reality, given the two-year gap.             Benjamin noted that whilst it has been two years down the line since the census has been conducted, this will in no way invalidate the findings of the census. He explained that the dynamics and the broad aggregates will still give the most accurate picture of how the population is changing.            

He said that unless there is some major social or other upheaval, one would not find at present any major change in the trend from what was recorded on Census Day 2012. Meanwhile, Benjamin pointed out that in the 1990s it took six years for census results. He noted that the Census 2012 results are coming out one year after the Bureau exited the field in June 2013, which is a big improvement in the last Census of 2002, when the preliminary results were reported three years later in 2005. With the continuous improvement with technology, the Bureau will target an even shorter time-span for the releasing of the preliminary results, he said.

Minister of Finance Dr. Ashni Singh, underscored the importance that Government attaches to having a periodic census.
Minister Singh noted that the richness of the data contained in the census, including the profile of the people (age, geographic dispersion, education and employment and other variable etc) is vital to Government’s decision making.

He noted that Government believes in evidence based policy making and understanding the dynamics of the population is critical to the formulation of policies.

“…we take very seriously, and look at very carefully the data that is generated by the period censuses, and we are informed by this data in every aspect of our policy making function,” Minister Singh said.

The Minister noted that Government is not the only one to do so, noting that in the private sector close attention is paid to changing population trends because of the implication of these for changing market opportunities,  and for investment decision for businesses.

The 2012 Census marks the Seventeenth National Census of Guyana, and Guyana’s Seventh Post-War National Census of Population and Housing. It was conducted as part of the Caribbean’s regional effort coordinated by the CARICOM Secretariat and in compliance with the United Nations’ mandate to execute the 2010 Global Round of Censuses.