Cuban Population Plummets by 18% Between 2022 and 2023, Independent Study Reveals

Tuesday, July 9, 2024 by Daniel Colon

Cuban Population Plummets by 18% Between 2022 and 2023, Independent Study Reveals
People walking through Havana (Reference Image) - Image by © CiberCuba

The Cuban population dropped by 18% between 2022 and 2023, reaching 8.62 million people, according to an independent demographic study soon to be published, accessed by the EfE agency. The research, conducted by Cuban economist and demographer Juan Carlos Albizu-Campos, aims to quantify the impact of the significant exodus the country has faced since 2021 and address the lack of official statistics on demographic changes.

The estimate is based on the number of Cubans arriving in the United States between October 2021 and April 2024, totaling 738,680 people, as per official information released by U.S. authorities, which includes visas, paroles, and irregular arrivals. The source disclosed that "this number is extrapolated to determine the total number of migrants, considering the percentage of Cubans heading to the U.S. compared to the total number of people leaving the country for any destination. For 2022 and 2023, the author estimates this at 33%, based on historical trends."

This results in a total of 1.79 million migrants for the period 2022-2023, an unprecedented figure in Cuban history. According to various accounts, it is estimated that during the significant waves of migration since the revolution's triumph in 1959, including the initial wave, the so-called freedom flights, the Mariel exodus, and the rafter crisis, among others, approximately 620,000 people left the country. This number is significantly lower than the 1.79 million Cubans who departed for different countries in 2022-2023, as revealed by the study cited by EfE.

Demographic Decline

If this number of migrants is added to the "negative natural increase balance," with more deaths than births in both 2022 and 2023 in Cuba, the population figure reaches 8.62 million people, according to the author. It's important to note that Albizu-Campos does not use the initial population figure of 11.11 million people reported by the National Office of Statistics and Information (ONEI) as of December 31, 2021. He considers this number "fictitious" and corrects it based on the electoral registers of 2013 and 2023. He believes the starting value should be 10.48 million people.

Regarding the recent migration phenomenon, official data from Cuba lack clarity, partly because island authorities only recognize a citizen as emigrated after 24 months of their departure. Additionally, the crisis has postponed the population census initially scheduled for 2022. Cuba has not conducted a population census for twelve years, and the Cuban government has postponed it until 2025, citing economic constraints.

In early June, Juan Carlos Alfonso, deputy head of ONEI, acknowledged to EfE the adverse impact of the economic crisis on his department. "We are working on the preliminary census registration this year, 2024, and assessing the real possibility of conducting it in 2025, depending on the country's resources," Alfonso stated. The delay of this large-scale survey affects the availability of necessary data for public policy formation and other government accounts.

However, the official took the opportunity to blame the U.S. economic embargo for the delay. He also listed the pandemic's effects, the sanctions under Donald Trump's administration, and the distortions in the Cuban economy since 2020 as obstacles to conducting the census. Alfonso also confirmed the deterioration of welfare indicators on the island, placing it at an intermediate level in Latin America. He further explained that ONEI produces statistics that remain unpublished for political reasons, such as migration estimates and inequality indicators. He acknowledged the increasing vulnerability and inequality within the population and the deterioration of the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) designed by the UN.

Understanding the Cuban Population Decline

In light of the recent significant demographic changes in Cuba, here are some essential questions and answers to help understand the situation better.

Why has the Cuban population decreased so significantly between 2022 and 2023?

The decrease is primarily due to a significant exodus of Cubans since 2021, coupled with a negative natural increase balance, meaning there were more deaths than births during this period.

How accurate are the population figures provided by the independent study?

The figures are based on estimates and extrapolations from available data, corrected for what the author, Juan Carlos Albizu-Campos, considers to be inaccuracies in official statistics. They aim to provide a more realistic picture in the absence of recent official census data.

What are the main reasons for the delay in conducting the population census in Cuba?

The delay is attributed to economic constraints, the effects of the U.S. economic embargo, the pandemic, and sanctions imposed during Donald Trump's administration.

© CubaHeadlines 2024

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