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Census confirms that Cuba's population fell by 13,809, or 0.12%, from 2002 to 2012.

Everyone knows Cuba's population is slowly shrinking--but even so, the results of Cuba's 2012 census come as a shock to many people.

As of September 2012, the Republic of Cuba had 11,163,934 inhabitants, down 0.12% from the 11,177,743 counted 10 years earlier.

A closer look at the figures shows that Cuba's government statistics agency, the Oficina Nacional de Estadisticas (ONE), has been routinely overestimating the population during the past decade by nearly 84,000 people, or 0.75% of the actual number.

ONE's last estimate, released in 2011, put the population at 11,247,925.

The bar chart on page 3 compares population estimates annually released by ONE against the numbers found in the census for 2002 and 2012. The broken gap in the chart represents a likely evolution in the number of Cubans in the past decade, while all bars above the broken line correspond to ONE's misleading estimates.

Cuban statistics began to show a stalling, or falling, number of inhabitants only after 2005, when the population curve leveled out at approximately 11.24 million inhabitants.

The truth, however, is that the slow erosion in population goes back to 2002, maybe earlier, as the extreme circumstances that ultimately lead to population stagnation--economic crisis, high emigration rates, low birth rate--have existed since the early 1990s.

In 1994, in fact, the Castro regime declared that Cuba's population had reached 11 million. It repeated that announcement in 1996.

How could ONE miss 84,000 Cubans at home? After all, nearly all births, averaging 126,000 per year in the past decade, take place at hospitals these days, while all deaths (83,000 annually) are properly reported and retired from the statistics.

Emigration is the only variable in Cuba's population balance which ONE cannot monitor, as thousands escape the island annually or defect while abroad. Anecdotes abound of Cubans hiding their fleeing relatives from authorities as long as they can, in order to retain benefits at home.

If this is correct, then the number of Cubans who left the island after bilateral migratory accords were signed in 1994, during the first Clinton administration, should exceed 700,000, or 6.3% of Cuba's current population.

Granma also reported that 3,931,643 dwellings were counted in September, up from 3,534,327 in 2002, for an average of 2.8 people per dwelling (down from 3.2 in 2002)--a disconcerting number indeed at odds with Cuba's critical housing shortage.

For the first time, Cuba has more women (50.09% of the total) than men (49.91%), a likely consequence of emigration, since men are more likely to escape than women. The elderly account for 18.3% of total population, which is also a result of the emigration of younger people (75% of all emigrants are younger than 60) and Cuba's low birth rate.

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Author:Portela, Armando H.
Article Type:Statistical data
Geographic Code:5CUBA
Date:Dec 1, 2012
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