Population and housing census 2022: Family planning paying dividends
Bangladesh's population growth rate has slowed over the past four decades, a decline that experts attribute to massive family planning campaigns and the country's socio-economic advancement.
The growth rate came down to 1.22 percent from 1.46 percent in 2011, according to the preliminary report of the Population and Housing Census 2022. The rate was 2.84 percent when the second census was conducted in 1981.
The sixth census, officially unveiled in the capital yesterday, shows that the country's population is 16.51 crore, excluding the expatriates.
About the decline, officials and experts say Bangladesh is getting the dividends of efforts from the government and non-government organisations to control the population boom.
Besides, women empowerment, rational decision-making, rising education levels, especially among women, are the reasons for which the country's population dynamism is in the right direction as revealed in the preliminary report.
"Population growth rate is gradually declining due to the continuous decrease in the total fertility rate. Massive family planning campaigns, use of contraceptives and women education also played key roles in controlling the population boom," said Prof Mohammad Mainul Islam, former chairman of the Department of Population Sciences at Dhaka University, yesterday.
He, however, said since this is the preliminary report, a final result should be published shortly to chalk out an appropriate policy.
Echoing Islam's views, Dr Ubaidur Rob, country director of Population Council, said the use of contraceptive was crucial in reducing the growth rate, and the country is gradually heading towards population stabilisation when the growth rate will be zero.
"Gradually birth rate will decline and death rate will increase and at one point the growth rate will be zero. It is expected that the population will stabilise by 2050," he said.
The population growth rate means annual average percentage change of population size, for a given country, territory, or geographic area.
It is the highest in Dhaka among all the divisions with 1.74 percent while the lowest in Barishal division with 0.79 percent.
In the last 11 years, the country's population has grown by 2.1 crore and the population rose to 16.51 crore, excluding the expatriates.
Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) released the primary report of its first digital census at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in the capital. Dildar Hossain, project director of the BBS, highlighted various aspects of the report.
Apart from this, the country witnessed another major demographic shift with females outnumbering males for the first time.
Of the population of around 16.5 crore recorded in the latest census, 81,712,824 are males and 83,347,206 females -- which means for every 100 females, there are 98.04 males or the country has 1,634,382 more females than males.
Officials and experts said this could be due to continuous rise in life expectancy and survival rate of women at birth. They also said it is not an isolated case for Bangladesh, rather women population is on the rise across the world.
"The other reason is that maternal mortality rate has declined," Dr Rob said.
Another important aspect of this census is that the population of other religious communities except for Muslims decreased in the country.
The ratio of Hindu population stands at 7.95 percent of the total population, according to the latest census while it was 8.54 percent in 2011.
Compared to the 2011 census, the Hindu population has decreased by 0.59 percent in this census. In the country's first census conducted in 1974, the Hindus accounted for 13.5 percent of the population.
Asked about the decline in the Hindu population, Prof Mainul said there are two reasons -- one is migration and the other is the lower fertility rate in the Hindu community. Lower fertility means Hindu couples have relatively less children.
Dr Rob too pointed out migration as a major reason. "Members of the Hindu community are feeling insecure and migrating to other countries," he said.
The biggest change took place in the urban population size. Of the population, 31.51 percent lives in urban areas while it was 23.30 percent in the previous census.
"Urbanisation is taking place rapidly. People are moving to urban areas but the urban setting, especially the healthcare system, is not ready to accommodate them. So special attention should be given to this aspect," Dr Rob said.
Project Director Dildar Hossain said features such as declining growth rate, increasing literacy rate and sanitation are very encouraging but special attention should be given to the fact that the aged population is gradually increasing.
Both Mainul and Dildar said the population data will be finalised through post enumeration check which will take a few months to complete.
In the latest census, the percentage of aged population is 5.88.
The Population and Housing Census started simultaneously on June 15 across the country. The census was supposed to end on June 21, but due to floods in the north-eastern districts, the deadline was extended till June 28 in those districts.
The population density has increased to 1,119 people per square kilometre which was 976 in the last census of 2011.