Ismail K Jalili

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5 Demography of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and the Arab World
I K Jalili
5.1   Introduction 5.6  Population estimates of the West Bank and Gaza Strip 1985-1987

5.2   Countries in the Arab League

5.7  Population figures 
5.3   Demographic trends in the Arab World 5.8  Age and sex distribution 
5.4   Migration in the Arab world
5.5   Demographic aspects of the West Bank and Gaza Strip

References

5.1

Introduction

The Palestinian territories are part of the Arab League countries (Arab League) which falls within the WHO classifications of world regions previously called the Middle East Crescent, now called the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA).  Politically, the Arab League extends some 5,000 miles from the Atlantic coast of northern Africa in the west, to the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman in the east. The Arab world covers an area of 5.25 million square miles and straddles two continents with 72% of its territory in Africa and 28% in Asia. By comparison, the US comprises 3.6 million square miles. (1), (2)

     
5.2  Countries in the Arab League

The population of the Arab League countries was approximately 280 million in 2000, nearly tripling in 50 years and is expected to approximate that of Europe, reaching 500 millions in 2020. (3) (4)

Human settlement is concentrated in areas with adequate water supplies; making an overwhelming majority of the population live in relatively high concentrations along coastal areas and major river valleys. The most striking example of this phenomenon is in Egypt where more than 90% of the population lives on less than 5% of the land. Resources are limited as only relatively few Arab countries possess petroleum and natural gas resources. The region's annual population growth rate is 2.7%, compared to 1.5% for the less-developed world as a whole.

According to the 2002 Arab Human Development Report, the average economic growth rate in the region is lower than the population growth rate, and is the lowest in the world after Subsaharan Africa. Additionally, the population of the Arab world is young; with almost 39% below the age of 15 and a median age under 20 years. (Table 5.1) Moreover, there has been a sizeable increase in the number of women of reproductive age (during the 1990s, the number grew from 50 to 69 million; a 38% increase). (5)

5.3   Demographic Trends in the Arab World

In the Arab world, four demographic patterns are seen.(5) These are:

 1.    High fertility, declining mortality in inter­mediate to low socio-economic settings. This includes: Jordan, Oman, Syria, Yemen, West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. (Table 5.1)

2.   Declining fertility and mortality rates in an intermediate level of socio-economic development. This includes; Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey and Iran.

3.    High fertility amid rapidly declining mortality in a high socio-economic setting. These include: the Gulf States, Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

4.    Low fertility and mortality in an above average socio-economic setting i.e. Israel.

Population doubling times in this region are one of the highest in the world. (Table 5.2) This has led to the high percentage of <15 pop­ulation. (Table 5.2)
Table 5.1  Population Doubling Time in years Table 5.2  Under 15 population in %

Gaza Strip

16

Oman

18

West bank

21

Saudi Arabia

23

Yemen

24

Egypt

35

Morroco

41

UK

423

Spain

1,980

Yemen 
Gaza
West Bank
Syria
Oman
Iraq

47 %
50 %
45 %
42 %
46 %
43 %

Life expectancy, however, remains below average although this has improved significantly in the past 40 years. (Table 5.3)

  There have been improvements in trends in infants and under-5 mortality rates (U5MR) in the past 40 years. (Tables 5.4, 5.5) The exception to that is Iraq, where the under 5 mortality doubled from 1994 to 2002 as a result of the sanctions imposed by the UN following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. (5), (6)

Life Expectancy, however, remains below average although this has improved significantly in the past 40 years. (Table 5.3) However, there have been improvements in trends in infants and under-5 mortality rates (U5MR) in the past 40 years. (Tables 5.4, 5.5) The exception to that is Iraq, where the under 5 mortality doub­led from 1994 to 2002 as a result of the sanctions. (5), (6)

Table 5.3  Life Expectancy in 1960 and 2002 Table 5.4  Infant Mortality Rate (Death by 1000 Live Births)

 

1960

2002

Yemen

37

59

Iraq

50

58

Iran

51

61

Jordan

48

70

Morocco

48

69

Oman

41

73

Egypt

47

66

Afghanistan

33

45

  1960 1994 2002

Yemen

230

78

75

Morocco

133

56

50

Iran

145

40

32

Egypt

169

51

44

Oman

180

22

17

UAE

160

21

19

Israel

32

7

5.3

Iraq

117

57

103

Table 5.5  Under-Five Mortality Rate (Per 1,000 Live Births)

HDI Rank

1970

2002


High human development

40

Bahrain

75

16

44

Kuwait

59

10

47

Qatar

65

16

49

United Arab Emirates

83

9


Medium human development 

58

Libya

160

19

74

Oman

200

13

77

Saudi Arabia

185

28

80

Lebanon

54

32

90

Jordan

107

33

92

Tunisia

201

26

101

Iran

191

42

102

OPT

n/a

25

106

Syria

129

28

107

Uzbekistan

-

68

108

Algeria

234

49

110

Kyrgyzstan

146

61

116

Tajikistan

111

72

120

Egypt

235

41

125

Morocco

184

43

139

Sudan

172

94


Low human development

142

Pakistan

181

107

149

Yemen

303

107

154

Djibouti

241

143


OPT: The Occupied Palestinian Territories

Maternal Mortality Rate figures (MMR) figures also vary and, like other figures, matches the economical growth and health care within the individual country Figures for MMR in the region are shown in Table 5.6.

Table 5.6 Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) in selected Middle Eastern countries in descending order per 100,000. (8)


Country
           MMR

Yemen             1600
Morocco            610
Iraq                  310
Lebanon            300
Libya                 220
Syria                 180
Oman                190
Egypt                170
Saudi Arabia       130
UAE                    26
 

 
   
5.4

 Migration in the Arab World

There are four key migration streams:

1.    Emigration from the Mediterranean to Western Europe,
2.    Labour migration to oil-producing states,
3.    Labour migration to non-oil producing states,
4.    East and South Asian labour migration to oil producing states.

Migrant labour is often characterised by extraordinary deprivation of basic rights. By 1957, 3.7 million Palestinians were registered as refugees working in other countries as migrants.

5.5  Demographic Aspects of the West Bank and Gaza Strip

After the 1967 war, the Israeli labour market opened up to workers from Gaza and West Bank but conditions were poor and exploitation rife. Palestinians found jobs in construction agriculture, hotels, restaurants and domestic service. By 1984, 87,000 Palestinians were employed in Israel – about 36% of the total workforce of the Occupied Territories. Following 1991 (i.e. since the ‘Intifadah’) a sharp decline in employment of Palestinians took place. Workers from Romania and Thailand were recruited to replace Pales­tinian workers from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. (5)

Nowadays girls and young women increasingly risk illiteracy and school drop out because of conflict. This has created a tendency for girls to marry at a younger age for security. There is a societal preference for larger families and to begin childbearing early, status often being defined by the number of children; this is combined with a high proportion of cousin marriage.(5)

5.6  Population Estimates in the West Bank and Gaza Strip 1985-1987

Reliable statistics on the Palestinian population have never been easy to assemble, largely because Jewish immigration to Palestine and the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 interrupted the intended evolution of Mandatory Palestine towards full independence. (7) Several Websites have been developed since the formation of the Palestinian Authority but the data includes only information and figures from recent years. (8), (9), (10), (11) (Appendix 1)

5.7  Population Figures

Some wide fluctuation was found over the fifteen year range. (11)  The most significant feature of the distribution is the increased fertility or survival rate affecting the 2 to 6 years age cohort.

Population figures show that M/F ratio in the <20 was 1.1:1 in both the WB and GS. From the age of 20 to 24 years, this starts changing to 1.07:1 /1.08:1, and is reversed from 25 years of age and above, averaging in the 16+ at 0.88:1, 0.94:1 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip respectively and 0.76:1 for both regions combined.

5.8

Age and Sex Distribution

At the beginning of the study, age and gender figures were derived from a ‘Study of the prevalence of handicapping conditions affecting children and a case finding intervention in the refugee camps population in the Gaza Strip by Saunders in 1987.(11)

Refer to Appendix-1 for the relevant population figures.

References
(1)

WHO. regional offices. http://www.who.int/about/regions/en/. (Accessed 12 June 2004)

(2)

Introduction to the Arab World. The League of Arab Nations website. http://www.middleeastnews.com/intoarab101.html.  (Accessed 12 June 2004)

(3) Kleber Centre and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. what common EU policy towards the Arab world? in global europe 2020: i ue / Arab world 2003. http://www.europe2020.org/en/anticipation/global/ globaleurope2_draft.htm. (Accessed 12 June 2004)
(4)

Courbage Y. Demographic change in the Arab world: the impact of migration, education and taxes in Egypt and Morocco. East Rep. 1994; 24: 19-22.

(5) Diamond J. Demography of the Arab World. lecture. st203, 21.10.02.
(6)

United Nations.The Human Development Report 2004 Website. http://hdr.undp.org/statistics/data/index_countries.cfm. (Accessed 25 August 2004)

(7)

Hill AG. The Palestinian population of the Middle East. Popul Dev Rev. 1983; 9: 293-316.

(8)

Palestinian Archives of Public Health. http://hdip.org/healtharchives/ healthserviceresearch/hsr1.html. (Accessed 5 June 2003).

(9)

United Nations Development Programme. http://hdr.undp.org. (Accessed 12 June 2004)

(10) Overseas Development Assistance Committee. http://www.oecd.org/dac. (accessed 17 November 2003)
(11)

Saunders CA. A study of the prevalence of handicapping conditions affecting children, and a case finding intervention in the refugee camp population of the Gaza Strip. Health development information project 1992, p59.

 

Ismail K Jalili 2000-2016