Recent Statistics Reveal Major Key Points
Today Belize joined the region in celebrating Caribbean Statistics Day 2013. The Statistical Institute of Belize held an official launch of the 2010 Population and Housing Census Report at the University of Belize, Belmopan Campus. According to Demographer at the Institute, Jacqueline Smalls the findings of the reports reveal three major key points.
“One of the things that we observed is that despite this small size of the population, our population is in fact growing at a very fast pace. In CARICOM, for example, most population growth is under 1 percent per annum’ ours is almost 3 percent per annum; so, that is one of the things that stood out very clearly in the census. Another thing is that we talked about literacy; even though our literacy is not at where we would want it to be, it is obvious that we are improving. When you look at youth literacy, for example, more than 4 out of 5 persons (youth 15 to 24) is considered illiterate and one of the things that people who do studies on gender is usually concerned about is the difference between males and females. We saw where in the adult population there is a huge gap in almost 10 percent in literacy between males and females with the males being at the lower end. When we look at the youth we can see that the gap has closed quite a bit; the difference is now less than 4 percent. So that is some good news coming out of the census. Another thing that we should consider is that in this age where we are focusing on health, we see that chronic illness; it’s a real issue in Belize. It’s not at an epidemic proportion but it is something that needs to be looked at especially as it relates to hypertension. For some ethnic groups, 6 percent of them have hypertension so perhaps this is something that health care specialists and researchers need to focus on. Many of the points that we presented today, they are just bare boned facts; for example for chronic illness and for literacy these are things that require further research and one of the main uses for the census is to inform where additional research is necessary; so, we would hope that our educators, persons who are doing their PHd or Masters might consider using the census data to pull out some of these things and to really come up with analysis that can really make a difference in the development of the country.”
Key note speaker for today’s ceremony was Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Santiago Castillo. Castillo spoke about the important role that the findings of the report play.
“I am told that this year is being observed as the International Day of Statistics under the theme, “Statistics from Everyday Life; Let us Educate and Appreciate.” As my previous statement said, I clearly appreciate statistics. Throughout the CARICOM region National Statistical Offices are using the occasion to highlight the importance of statistics. Since it is generally believed that the public sees it as irrelevant to them and reserved for the use of policy makers. I am very certain that the vast majority of you in this auditorium and your colleagues elsewhere have viewed statistics as peripheral to your existence. It is very much like the mouse you attach to a computer, useful but not that necessary. Some of you would say that is totally unnecessary for your survival. The fact is however that we live in a modern society where our personal and collective aims are to improve the lot of ourselves and those that depend on us and this can only be done effectively with good statistical information. Population and important statistics for existence are vital to me as both a politician and businessman; from a political perspective population statistics help to determine the amount of resources I need to meet the social and economic needs of my constituency.”
In 2010, Belize’s population stood at about three hundred and twenty four thousand. Two years later, the population has increased by more than sixteen thousand.
2010 Census on Population and Housing officially launched
The 2010 Census on Population and Housing was officially launched today in a glossy report, even though the findings were released since 2011. Still yet there is interesting information. In 2010 the population stood at approximately three hundred and twenty-four thousand five hundred, we say approximately because the head count was not all inclusive; by far the largest ethnic group is the Mestizos which stands at forty nine percent, with the creoles trailing behind at twenty two percent. Duane Moody was there and has this report.
Duane Moody, Reporting
Today is celebrated as Caribbean Statistical Day and to mark the occasion, the Statistical Institute of Belize officially launched the 2010 Census on population and housing in the jewel. The public was given a crash course on statistics and Belize’s unique demographic makeup and how it has changed over the past ten years.
Aaron Lewis, Chairman, Board of Directors, SIB
“The Census report that is being launched today is a high quality product both in design and content. It provides for policy and decision making grounded in evidence and objectivity. I am also very happy to report that the institute is releasing on CD a data version of a tabulation system that allows any user with a personal computer—no internet access needed—to produce their own tables and graphs from the 2010 Census data. What is on display today are finished products of the institute. You will not see today the physical exertion of the staff, their persistence or the personal sacrifices they have all needed in getting the job done and done well.”
It is all about collecting the substantive data for manipulation by government and policy makers to chart the way forward for the country as well as projecting the growth and the transformation of the Belizean society. President of the University of Belize, Doctor Cary Fraser, says that statistics play a key part in our history.
Dr. Cary Fraser, President, University of Belize
“Statistics are the indicators of the current situation that are embedded in those statistics are in fact a very complex history. And I say that because earlier this year, Kenrick Leslie, the director of the Climate Change Center made a very interesting comment. In 1960’s when he went to England, he went to Wembly Football Stadium and he was in a stadium where there were more than a hundred thousand people. And he called home to tell his parents that he was in a stadium that held a population larger than the then population of Belize, which is quite interesting because today, the population of Belize is well over three hundred thousand. What you are seeing is the transformation of a society by ways of immigration that became very significant in the 1980’s into the 1990’s. And population growth rates that are quite striking as compared to much of the English-speaking Caribbean. There are two things that are important about it that the society has become more complex based on the geographic origins of that population growth which means that the society has had to adjust to the realities of dealing with large number of immigrants and their immediate descendants.”
The Census 2010 puts the population of Belize, three years ago at approximately three hundred and twenty-four thousand five hundred and twenty-eight persons including prisoners, the homeless and those living in children’s homes and other institutions. Countrywide, the census shows that forty-five percent of the population lives in urban areas with four persons registered per household. It additionally looks at the country profile with regards to the ethnic scope of which Latinos or Mestizos represent forty-nine percent of the population despite English being the mostly spoken language.
Jacqueline Small, Demographer, Statistical Institute of Belize
“One of the things that we observed is that despite the small size of the population, our population is in fact growing at a very fast pace. In CARICOM for example, most population growth is under one percent per annum. Ours is almost three percent per annum so that is something that stood out very clearly in the census. Another thing is that we talked about literacy…even though our literacy is really not to where we would like it to be, it is obvious that we are improving. When you look at youth literacy for example, more than four out of five person—youth (meaning) fifteen to twenty-four—is considered literate. In the adult population there is a huge gap of almost ten percent in literacy between males and females with the males being at the lower end. When we look at the youth, we see that the gap has closed quite a bit; the difference is now less than four percent. So that is some good news coming out of the census.”
A memorandum of understanding was also signed between the University of Belize and SIB that will result in tangible benefits for both institutions and the country.
Santiago Castillo, Minister of State, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development
“It is highly erroneous for students at this university and other public education institutions to believe that GDP statistics are irrelevant and do not directly affect them. Many of the regional and international agencies use a menu of official statistics to determine which countries are in greater need of technical and financial assistance. Statistics are important not only to know what presently exists but also to measure the effectiveness of interventions made by those who seek to ameliorate a given situation.”