Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Population

Okay, let's chill out a bit about my health woes and get onto other topics.

I had not mentioned this interesting article in the local newspaper regarding Qatar's population, or more importantly:

1) the change in the population over the course of one month; and
2) the gender ratio

It provides a great example of how transient and fluid the population is here. A population of 1.6 million had a net increase of about 50,000 in one month! These are changes of population ranging from approximately 3% over the course of one month. For comparison that would be the equivalent of Canada gaining/losing 1 million people in a month. In fact the change is so significant I'm skeptical that the numbers are accurate and unfortunately the article does not say how the numbers were determined by the Government.

I also wish there was a breakdown in terms of business sector. Qatar has only one major city, Doha, which contains around 60 to 70% of the country's population, but I did not notice a significant change to traffic in the last couple of months that could not be explained by school closures for the holidays. A population increase/decrease of 3%+ should have created a significant change in traffic density (especially because recent news reports state that the number of cars on the road is increasing by 10,000 a month, though again I think that figure is just new cars and does not take into account all of the older cars taken off the road or sold to people who take them out of the country, so the actual growth figure is smaller). Because the traffic has not increased significantly I suspect that most of the increase is either labourers from South Asia or family members of workers already here.

As for the gender ratio the numbers speak for themselves and I have touched on this a few times in the past on my blog. Most jobs here are held by men -- primarily a combination of most employment being blue-collar jobs like construction, migrants from countries where men are expected to be the breadwinner of the family, and where many workers come from countries that do not encourage single ladies to leave their country to work on their own (many Asian and African countries are like this, the Philippines being a notable exception). Combine that with laws that require you to earn a minimum amount to be allowed to bring your family here and you have a population heavily skewed to men.

I'm not criticising the law requiring that you earn a minimum amount to bring your family over (I think the minimum was recently raised to QR 7000/month (~US$1900)). Qatar is an expensive country, more expensive than many Western nations, and if you do not earn a certain income there is no way you would be able to maintain a family here -- better that they stay back in their home country where things are much cheaper and have money sent to them. I'm not even sure how one would raise a family here on QR 7000 a month, it would be tough to find a shabby apartment for less than 5000. I've heard rumours of people renting three-bedroom apartments and an entire family lives in each bedroom! I do not know how common that is though, could be one of those rare things that the rumour mill has run with, but classified ads and notice boards at supermarkets usually advertise rooms for rent in apartments or villas.

Anyway, this demonstrates just how different Qatar is to a typical Western nation, especially the gender ratio.

(Still not sure about the accuracy of the statistics though, I wonder what the Government was using to determine them)

4 comments:

A 2 Z said...

Still not sure about the accuracy of the statistics though, I wonder what the Government was using to determine them)
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Probably "creative accounting" l0l

PS If you like jokes come and visit my blog! Still wondering if I should go to Doha next month! The weather has to be better....

Anonymous said...

I think the number relate to the net inflow of people into the country. If you go home on vacation, the population goes down, when you return it goes up.

Glen McKay said...

Yes, i assumed the population change is due to worker inflows. Certianly didn't grow 50,000 from just births.

Kerry said...

Having lived through several "censi" (plural of census :) ) in Qatar, I am also skeptical of any number attached to just about anything here. The society is changing so fast and the government is just learning about sociological data gathering and the society itself is extremely wary of giving answers on any kind of government query about their family, etc.

On another note, I am hyped about this coming Friday!!!! I have been mulling starting a group here but thought it might be frought with danger. :) See you there.