About EC$330,000 has been allocated to support the 2023 population and housing census, which is expected to begin soon. The census is usually conducted every 10 years. The COVID pandemic and other challenges may have been the cause for what would have been the 2022 census, to now happen in 2023.
In this piece, the intention is to highlight some of the findings listed in the 2012 census report, which may serve as the basis of comparison whenever the new report is published. Among the main points we wish to highlight here are the population size itself, unemployment, and health and illness.
According to the 2012 report, “the total population of St. Vincent and the Grenadines was 109,991 compared with 109,022 in 2001…” Total population here not only includes the household population, but also those who were in various institutions. In 2012, the household population totaled 109,188, while 803 were in some sort of institution. Eighty-five were homeless (84 males, 1 female); 383 were in prison (371 M, 12 F); 287 were in hospital, mental or nursing homes. Another 48 were in some other institutions. In summary, 2012 total population (109,991) = 109,188 + 803.
On mainland, the household population decreased from 99,068 in 2001, to 98,954 in 2012. Several census divisions contributed to this decrease. Sandy Bay, Colonarie, and Kingstown divisions topped the list. Sixteen per cent growth in the Grenadines — 8,767 to 10,234 — flipped the scale. In summary, while the mainland household population decreased, the Grenadines divisions increased. There were a total of 13 census divisions.
Interestingly, it is only since 1991 that the male population has outnumbered that of the female. Up to that point, there have always been more females than males. Also, population growth rate has declined consistently since 1980. This means that since 1980, the population hasn’t been growing as fast as it did in previous years. It could mean that more and more people have been emigrating since that year. Between 2001 and 2012, 4,851 persons left the country for different reasons, including 45% left for employment opportunities. Net migration, deaths, and births all affect household population.
The 15-19 age group held the largest group of household population, with a total of 9,912. That was followed by the 10-14 group (9,760).
In 2012, the working age population was 82,263 people. That is the number of persons who were 15 and older. Of this number, 52,014 (63.2%) were said to be in the labour force. That is the amount of people who were willing, able, and looking for work.
Overall, 21.5% of the labour force reported to be unemployed. By age group, 62% unemployment was reflected in the 15-19 age group, 40% in the 20-24 age group, and 25% of the 25-29 group. It appears the unemployment rate was lower in the older groups, so that the 65+ age group reflected 15% unemployment; 60-64, 10%; 55-59, 13%.
Census divisions Colonarie and Georgetown reflected the highest unemployment rate of 27%, each.
2001 had a working age population of 74,828. Of this number 44,984 (60%) were said to be in the labour force, with an overall unemployment rate of 20.9%. Effectively, you had a slightly overall lower unemployment rate in 2001, though by age group, the difference was more glaring. By age group for 2001: 15-19 — 51.4% unemployment; 20-24 — 34%; 25-29 — 21.5%. For the older age groups: 65+, 6% unemployment; 60-64 — 11%; 55-59 — 13%.
Comparing 2001 to 2012, only four of the 13 census divisions posted a lower unemployment rate. Bridgetown (23.2% to 21.9%); Sandy Bay (28.4% to 18.5%); Layou (28.8% to 25.7%); Southern Grenadines (13.1% to 12.8%).
Most (70.2%) of those who were reported to be unemployed in 2012 listed local friends and relatives as their source of livelihood. Another 12% reported the same (cash or kind) from overseas as their source of livelihood.
For those who were employed in 2012, the agriculture, forestry, and fishing industry was the second largest employer; second only to wholesale and retail trade. Construction was third.
Health and Illness
Of the 2012 population, 10% reported as a case of hypertension (high blood pressure). That was a total of 10,935 cases, up from 7,668 (7.1%) in 2001. This is an increase of 40.6% in cases of high blood pressure, over that span.
Diabetes went from fourth highest reported in 2001 — below hypertension, arthritis, and asthma — to second in 2012, below hypertension only. In 2001, 3,715 cases (3.4%) were reported; 6,308 cases (5.8%) were reported in 2012. Overall, diabetic cases increased by almost 70%.
Except for glaucoma and cancer, all the reported diseases were more prevalent among females. Of the diabetic cases, 64% were females, as well as 65% of the hypertension cases. The age group 45-64 headed the list of all age groups reporting a case of non-communicable disease. In the under-15 age group, 23 cases of hypertension were reported, as well as 32 cases of diabetes.
The census report covers a lot more detail than we can highlight and summarise here in one piece, but as always, we encourage you to pay close attention to your affairs. In the case of the 2023 census, which is scheduled to begin soon, we encourage you to consider the information presented here and make the relative comparison to what is presented in the new report, when it is published. The census is perhaps the most accurate representation of how things have evolved in the last 10 years.
The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].