Western Mediterranean Region

This report studies the demographic and educational futures of Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. These are areas of potential and existing conflicts, where population growth has many political dimensions.

The report, however, abstains from discussing these political issues and focuses on future demographic aspects. It is clear that this report could raise some questions on the sensitivity of the region to future population prospects. Assumptions for the population projections are based on the analysis of past and present trends in changes in population growth, age structure, fertility levels and trends, contraceptive use, marriage and child bearing patterns, mortality, migration, education, and enrollment levels. Based on this analysis, three population projection paths - low, central, and high - were designed and lead to three population figures for each area in 2044. Educational levels of the population were judged determinant to the future level of population growth. In all scenarios, the levels of enrollment varied consistently with fertility and mortality assumptions to change the levels of education in the population. Results were then analyzed to provide a demographic picture of the region in 2044.

This study provides interesting insights into the demography of these countries, especially with regard to the momentum of population growth and education levels. Jordan and Syria have experienced high rates of population growth in the recent past. In Jordan, these rates have been reinforced by the migration of Palestinian refugees from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip into the country. The first signs (important fertility reductions and gains in life expectancy) of a demographic transition became visible in the late 1980s in the two countries. The population in Jordan and Syria will continue to grow rapidly in the future. The central scenario, which gives the most likely path under current conditions, implies a tripling of the population of Jordan and almost a tripling of the population in Syria. Still these countries have a high potential for lesser population growth. Lebanon will remain a country of low population growth, with the annual growth rate ranging on average from 1.0 to 1.3 percent per year between 1994 and 2044. The most extreme results in terms of population growth are found in the case of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Even under the low scenario, which combines very rapid fertility and mortality declines and rapid educational improvements, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip more than quadruple in population size in the fifty years of the projection period due to the high momentum of past population growth. However, all scenarios show substantial declines in the proportion of people with a low education - less than a primary education - even under the most pessimistic assumptions.

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Last edited: 22 July 2013

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World Population

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