Occasional Essays
July 22, 2005
2001 Census: SVG population static

It has long been said in St. Vincent and the Grenadines that there are six women to one man. Nothing could be further from the truth. The 2001 Census shows that the numbers are just about equal, 53,626 males and 52,627 females. This parity between the sexes

exists among all age groups; the young, the middle aged and the old.{{more}}

Nor has our population been growing; it was 106,499 in 1991 and 106,253 in 2001. The birth rate is not as high as it once was. Given the way the ladies dress and the prevailing style of dancing it is unlikely that we have been having less sex. Obviously, the Family Planning people have done a good job. Equally probable,

the fear of AIDS, while it may not have led to an increase in the level of abstinence, has resulted in the greater use of condoms.

What is certain though is that emigration has played a major role in restricting our population growth. Between 1991 and 2001, some 18,000 persons emigrated; that is to say, almost one person in every five. This was much higher than in the previous decade and why in a previous article I described St. Vincent as a bit of a


We often fail to perceive that the population is static since most of us live in areas where the population is increasing and not in those where it is declining. The districts in which population is growing most are the suburbs of Kingstown, the Calliaqua area and the Southern Grenadines. The service industries including tourism are located in these areas. Population is falling in the areas of Bridgetown, Marriaqua and Georgetown, the agricultural districts.

Twenty-five years ago we used to wonder what would happen with all those young people since, at that time, half the population was below the age of 15. Now only 30 per cent are below that age.

In several African countries, AIDS has decimated the senior ranks of the civil service, the army and the police force making governance even more difficult. The available evidence so far does not indicate that this has been the case in SVG. People are living longer. The number of persons over 65 increased from 6916 to 7740 between 1991 and 2001. The figures suggest that the erection of the Golden Years Centre at Pembroke and Black Point by the National Insurance Services has been most timely. Sadly, they also explain why we are having more cases of Alzheimer’s and Arthritis.

Long time we were mainly Anglican, Methodist and Roman Catholics. Today the Pentecostals, Seventh Days and Spiritual Baptists rule the roost. The latter churches are not only growing rapidly but it is they who attract the attention of the young. The older folk tend to remain with the established churches. As an old Methodist I feel sorry for the Wesleyans, they were once Pentecostal in their approach. Now they are being overtaken by the Pentecostals of today.

The number of children attending secondary school hardly changed between 1991 and 2001, it was 6949 in 1991 as against 7292 in 2001. This was of course before the ULP embarked upon its education revolution. In 2005 the number of children in secondary school is about 9500.

Children attending primary schools declined from 12495 in 1991 to 9737 in 2001. On the contrary, there has been a staggering increase in pre school education and university education.

In the pre schools the numbers have gone from 2402 in 1991 to 3407 in 2001. In the case of the Universities, from 57 in 1991 to 528 in 2001.

The explanation is simple. We have long had universal primary education so that when the population stopped growing it was immediately reflected in primary school enrolment. Pre-school and

university education have never been universal so there is a lot of slack to be taken up.