Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Statistics on Antigua and the population census.

When I was a little kid in the late 1970s, we learned in school that Antigua had a population of about 80,000. I didn't know any Jamaicans, Guyanese, or people from Dominican Republic and most of the villages around were small and compact. During the 80s and 90s Antigua went through a huge construction boom while at the same time there came huge immigration form countries all over the Caribbean and the world with the above nationals being the largest contributor to our workforce. Villages grew and some new villages were born. Every now and then someone tells me that they live in a village I have never heard of. Huge areas of what was once bush and cane fields became residential neighborhoods. Now wherever you go you will meet nationals from all over the world who now reside here in Antigua. On Market Street it's more common to hear someone speaking with an accent that isn't Antiguan.

The point of all of this isn't to say anything other than most Antiguans believe that our population has grown significantly since the 1970s. In 1991 in the middle of the immigration and construction boom a population census was carried out. IT was also a time when a large percentage of the population didn't trust the leading party for one reason or another. I was living in a house with three other youth. One wasn't Antiguan and didn't have a work permit, and he chose to avoid the census. I knew so many people who decided to steer clear of the census because they were worried that somehow the immigration department would receive info on them. This was silly, but it did happen. There were so many people here working and living "under the radar" that it is my firm belief that the 1991 census was totally incorrect. Most people think that our nation's residential population is closer to 100,000 than the 68,000+ that is officially quoted.

So what is the big deal right? Well there are huge implications for all sorts of things including taxation, the social services, and of course general statistics. The crime rate seems to be the one quoted most frequently in the papers and on the internet these days. Our murder rate is one that has been quoted to death recently. Of course if you use the official population of 68K then our murder rate is high, but if an accurate figure was given on our population then the rates would seem more reasonable if that word could describe a murder rate. For some reason, people don't seem to think about this as a major problem. I do and wish someone would figure out that it's time to correct it.