Doha: Qatar's growing demographic imbalance due to growing immigration and falling fertility rate among nationals may pose long term political and security challenges to the country, an official report here said.
According to the data and recommendations of the 2006 Human Development Report on the State of Qatar issued on Thursday, the small number of Qatari nationals, only 20 per cent of the total population of 744,000, cannot meet the growing labour requirements of Qatar's booming economy. This factor added to a drop in the fertility rate of nationals may lead to a growing imbalance by 2015, when the forecast population will reach 1.3 million, the report warned.
"Qatar's demographic balance is an issue of major concern emerging from the data collected in the report. With a local population amounting to no more than 20 per cent of the total vis-Ã -vis the economic expansion that requires growing manpower, we will have to face not only labour, but security and political challenges," Hasan Al Mohannadi, Director of the Social Development Department at Qatar's Planning Council told Gulf News.
According to the 157-page report, Qatar's population increased seven fold between 1970 and 2004 due to the arrival of foreign labour. Meanwhile, the Qatari population's growth rate has been affected by a falling fertility rate which dropped from 5.7 per cent in 1995 to 4.2 per cent in 2004. "The fertility rate is expected to fall further in the future leading to a slower population growth among Qataris," states the report.
In a bid to curb the rising population imbalance, the Planning Council has set up a Permanent Population Committee tasked with drafting a national strategy.
"The population issue is fundamental because it impacts all aspects of our life and the country's policies," Al Muhannadi said.
The report is the first ever issued by the Qatar's Planning Council in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme.
It provides the latest statistics with regard to healthcare, education, economics and environment, collected in cooperation with ministries and governmental departments.
Adult literacy rate stands at 93.4%
- The report shows that Qatar's life expectancy has reached 76 years for females and 74 for males.
- Adult literacy rate stands at 93.4 per cent, while the combined gross enrolment for primary, secondary and tertiary education is 89 per cent for females and 81.4 per cent for males.
- Estimated earned income (measured by purchasing power parity) amounts to $13.884 for females and $44.767 for males.
- The report reveals an overall improvement of the ratio of literate females to males over the past 15 years as well as an overall growth of the share of women in education and wage employment. Infant mortality rate dropped from 13.5 per cent per thousand live births in 1995 to 8.6 in 2004 and healthcare standards show remarkable improvements.