Census: reading the numbers

30 June 2018

The national statistics office (INEI) last week published some of the results from last year’s census. The numbers underline how Peru’s demographic profile is changing.

The total population of the country is put at 31.3 million. However, the number actually counted in the census was only 29.4 million. There were a number of failings on census day requiring subsequent reckonings.

The rate of population increase has slowed when compared with previous census results. The last census in 2007 put the population at 28.2 million. This represents an average annual increase of just 1.0%, the lowest in living memory. The birth rate continues to decline with people having much smaller families, reflecting the country’s predominantly urban profile and the increasing use made by couples of contraceptive methods.

The census figure does not include those Peruvians who live abroad. According to Reniec (the National Public Registry), there are 34 million Peruvians with an identity card (DNI), some of whom live outside Peru.

Of the total census population, 49.2% is male and 50.8% female. 26.4% of the population is between the age of 0 and 14 years, 61.7% between 15 and 59 years, and 11.9% over the age of 60. Like other countries in Latin America, an increasingly large proportion of the population is of retirement age. However, the drop in the birth rate was considerably larger than the increase in those over 60, reducing the so-called ‘dependency ratio’.

The geographical distribution of population continues to shift, with the demographic weight increasingly in the coastal strip. Of the total population, 17.3 million (or 58%) live in regions along the coast. By contrast, the highlands are home to 8.2 million (28.1%) and the Amazon jungle to just 4 million (13.9%). While the proportion of the population living in the coastal area rose significantly over the 2007 census result, that living in the highlands fell by the same token. The proportion living in the jungle area increased only marginally.

Of the total, 9.4 million (30%) live in a single region, Lima. Lima is followed by Piura (1.8 million), La Libertad (1.7 million) and Arequipa (1.3 million). The country’s largest provinces (which correspond to its largest cities) are Lima (8.6 million), Arequipa (1.1 million), Callao (994,000) and Trujillo (970,000). The last three of these saw a higher annual average rate of increase than Lima (1.2%) with Arequipa growing each year by 2.3%.

The districts with the largest populations were San Juan de Lurigancho (1 million), San Martín de Porres (654,000), Ate (599,000) and Comas (520,000). All are in Metropolitan Lima.

Further information from the census is due to follow in August

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    The Peru Support Group exists to promote social inclusion, sustainable development and the observance of human rights in Peru. To that end the PSG highlights shortcomings in observance of established norms, whether international or local in nature, in its research, advocacy and publications. In so doing, it underscores the relationships that exist within the political system, how institutions work, and the effectiveness of policies that aim to reduce poverty and inequality within the context of sustainable development.

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