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Population closing in on 15 million: survey

Cambodia's population has broken the 14 million mark and then some, increasing nearly 10 per cent since 2008 to 14.68 million, according to the provisional results of a population survey released yesterday by the Ministry of Planning.

But the 2013 Cambodia Inter-Censal Population Survey, conducted halfway between each once-a-decade census, also found the population is growing slower than it has in the past, and that it’s continuing to urbanise as well, with 21.4 per cent of people living in cities, compared with 19.5 per cent in 2008.

That movement could also explain why the average size of households has also marginally decreased – from 4.7 persons in 2008, to 4.6 persons now – “partly due to fertility decline but most probably because of the migration”, said Marc Derveeuw of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA).

Cambodia’s population is growing faster than its neighbours, at 1.46 per cent annually, compared with 1.1 per cent in Southeast Asia as a whole, and 0.5 and 1.0 per cent in Thailand and Vietnam, respectively.

However, the number still represents a drop compared with 2008, when the growth rate was 1.54 per cent.

The “demographic window”, according to the UNFPA, refers to a period of slower population growth in which the population of working-age persons is proportionally much larger than the population of both young and old dependents. This condition makes the burden of caring for dependents proportionally lower, and can spur growth, freeing up revenues that can be reinvested in the economy.

In Cambodia, the segment of the population under the age of 14 had shrunk by nearly 10 per cent since 2008 to 34 per cent, Derveeuw said, “confirming the demographic window of opportunity has opened and more young people enter the labour market”.

Hang Lina, director general of the Institute of Statistics in the Ministry of Planning, said yesterday’s provisional results offer an incomplete picture, and that 14 further reports on reproductive issues, child mortality, migration, education, workforce participation, housing and gender were slated to be released soon.

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