Jordan Strains Under Demographic, Fiscal Pressure

Jordan’s new national census provides a much-needed update to previous estimates of the country’s population. It adds weight to popular perceptions that the country is bursting at the seams under the weight of Syrian refugees.

While no one would have been surprised to hear that Jordan’s population is increasing, the freshly-released results of Jordan’s first national census in 11 years were still startling.

The census included not only citizens but also foreign residents, and reported that Jordan’s total resident population is now 9,531,712, compared to the World Bank’s 2014 estimate of 6,607,000. But the census also showed that only 6,613,587, or 69.4%, of these 9.5 million are citizens. Jordan’s capital, Amman, has experienced a remarkable rise, with its population more than doubling over the 11 years to 4 million.

In a broader perspective, Jordan’s population has now increased ten-fold over the past half-century, but a large portion of this increase has come through successive waves of in-migration. The report notes that during the 2004-15 period, overall population growth was 5.3% annually: but just 3.1%/year came from ’natural growth’ citizens; the foreign population grew by a massive 18%/year. The bulk of the new increase came in the capital, placing further strain on its creaking infrastructure: Amman increased its share of the population by four percentage points, from 38% to 42%.


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