## 18 December 2007

### We're a million: Math 101

So recently the government made an interesting non-announcement in parliament. Apparently, according to a statement by the Central [dis]Informatics Organization (CIO) to parliament, Bahrain's population finally reached a million. Hurrah!

Now, setting aside the question as to why we remain in the dark when it comes to official statistical figures of the CIO, something just doesn't add up...
If we go back to 2001, the official statistics were as follows:

Total population = 650,604
Bahraini = 405,667
Non-Bahraini = 244,937
Total population growth rate of 2.7%
Bahraini population growth rate: 2.5%

[Note that the Middle East growth rate was 3.62 in 2001]

Fast forward to 2007:
Total Population = 1,046,814
Bahraini = 529,446
Non-Bahraini = 517,368
Total population growth rate = 10.1%
Bahraini population growth rate = 5.1%

Yes, I'm not kidding and the CIO is not kidding either. As opposed to a 2007 Middle East growth rate of 3.3 (other countries are apparently cleaning up their act), we shoot all the way up, higher than any growth rate in the world (by the way the global rate is around 1.1%).

Depressed enough? OK here is more:

If we assume that the 2.5% growth rate of 1991-2001 is the "natural" rate, and we assume that it stays the same (very conservative assumption since it was actually declining.. the rate was 3% in 1981-1991), here is what the Bahraini citizens' population should have naturally become: 470,450

This can only mean one thing. Yes. God created 60,000 Bahrainis just like he created Adam and Eve, for no such number can possibly be born here by accident. Otherwise, we may actually have to believe that the government is lying when it says it is not naturalizing all the people we see mushrooming around us. Either way, even this number does not make much sense if we consider that the CIO itself had declared a the 2006 population growth figure of 2.6%.

More notes on the parliament dicussion:

The Minister of justice said that the growth rate now is 5.1% (neglected to mention that it's actually 10% if we include expats), and said the increase is due to the recent "economic development" which lead to a surge in expatriate labor. Of course, our parliamentarians, the geniuses, didn't bother to ask whether the 5.1% actually includes expats-- or even wonder how can a growth rate that was decreasing since the 1950s all of a sudden double in 6 years (or a year, if we take the mysterious 2.6% of 2006).

Seriously, does anyone in the ruling establishment, government, or our genius parliament realize the kind of crisis we're getting ourselves into at this point? Do we all have amnesia and Math retardation?

Mahmood Al-Yousif said...

They're using a custom abacus that is missing the "thousands" row I think!

moodz said...

Never actually thought of it this way, thanks for shedding light on the issue from this angle.

60,000 seems to be an acceptable number when considering the allegations by the numerous political societies putting naturalization figures as somewhere between 200-500k (which is simply outrageous).

60k don't seem so much, at least when considering AlDuwaser from neighboring Saudi Arabia.

Good to have you back!

ammaro.com said...

5% growth? This isn't just something to wonder about, this is actually pretty terrifying. When an economy grows at a rate of 2 or 3% a year that's considered pretty fast, but now to cope with the increasing population, the economy needs to go into overdrive. We have strain on resources, infrastructure, living spaces and so on.

That easily explains the ridiculous amount of traffic. The overcrowded malls on your average weekend night. The support for the new restaurants/shops/malls/stores that are sprining up everywhere.

Bahrain can handle a million. Sure, easily, if we start opening up the unused land. If we start expanding and improving the currently overused roads to handle the traffic. If we start increasing water and power output to handle the surge of people.

But we're not. We're just importing people, and pretty soon we're going to have a crisis on our hands.

Scary stuff. Thanks for shedding light on this.

Anonymous said...

There is a simple explanation for this.

I have lived here for 25 years and have been fascinated by the explosion which is happening.

In the past the growth was countered by the survival rate however 25 years ago the life expectancy jumped so that more children reached adulthood. Instead of 3 out of 11 children surviving now all 11 have reached adult hood and have had children of their own usually 4 or 5. These grand children have now had babies of their own in the last few years and their grandparents are still alive. 25 years ago 5,000 bahraini girls were born every year, these bahraini girls are now having babies of their own at the same time as their mother is still producing sisters!!

The birth rate will increase very rapidly up to 25,000 a year by 2010 whilst the death rate will remain constant at about 3,000 per year until all the new Bharaini's reach old age in about 15 years time.

This explains why you need 2,000 new houses a year for the next 25 years, 12 new schools a year and 1 new hospital every 2 years. At the moment nearly 200,000 bahrainis are under 20!!!!

This is a fantastic opportunity for businesses which deal in toys, infant schools, nappies,teenage clothes.

The down side is there is a demand now for an additional 2,000 new cars every year to clog up our already congested roads.

LuLu said...

Hmm Mahmood, scary stuff.

Moodz.. I wasn't going to go there, but I wish our opposition societies would stop throwing around numbers like candy. It numbs us down and all of a sudden the "bad" doesn't seem so bad after all, even if 60,000 means that roughly out of every 100 Bahraini, 10 are mojanaseen.

I think the real danger though is that we cannot sustain the continuation of this process. So far there is no indication that it has stopped.. in fact, the new growth rate suggests exactly the opposite.

LuLu said...

Ammar, I agree with every word you said!

Anonymous, while I will agree with you that the mortality rate has decreased, this by no means explains a doubling of the population growth rate over mere SIX years. In fact, in the period between 1961 and 2001, during which we can all safely assume that the healthcare situation saw its biggest improvements, the population growth declined steadily.. from 3.5 all the way down to 2.7.

Also another factor that undermines that explanation is the assumption that the same number of babies will continue to be born (or increase). The fact is, healthcare improvements came along with increased access to education and work opportunities for women, which both lead to a decrease in the overall birth rates.

Gardens of Sand said...

Great post Lulu! 2+2=5 is what is happening in Bahrain, things are just not adding up. The dumbing of the people by all those involved needs to stop. But the question is, what will be done about this? Here, nothing....in another place well, life as we know it would be no more. Here in wonderland, it will be brushed off as another x against the big man.