23 APRIL 2003

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Maltese population grows by four per cent

The National Statistics Office reports that since the last census taken in 1995, the Maltese population has grown by four per cent, while over the past ten years the population experienced positive yearly increases averaging 0.5 per cent.
At the end of 2002, the Maltese population stood at 386,938 and consisted of 191,975 males and 194,963 females.
The total population at the end of 2002, including the foreign element resident in the Maltese Islands, stood at 397,296, with 196,836 males and 200,460 females.
The NSO explains that population changes are the result of two main factors: the difference between births and deaths and the migration balance. The two movements may not necessarily be in the same direction but both the natural and the migration balances have been positive during the past years.
Natural increase
In 1993, there was a natural increase of 2,455 in the Maltese population. This represented 71 per cent of the total population growth during the year. Ten years after, the natural increase declined to 774 or 42 per cent. This drop was mainly the result of low fertility rates. Mortality rates did not register any notable fluctuations and migration flows were relatively low throughout the period.
Resident foreign population
During the past years, the incidence of foreigners within the Maltese population has always been of minor importance. At the last census held in 1995, the number of foreign residents was 7,213, of whom 3,555 or 49 per cent were British.
All European countries have over the past decade, experienced a decrease in fertility. The case of Malta is a notable example. Ten years ago, the crude birth rate was 14.11; by 2002 it had come down to 9.86 and may be expected to decline further in future. In 2002, Malta registered the lowest ever number of live births during the past two decades.
In Malta, there has also been a modest change in values and attitudes towards marriage and its various forms. Although there has not been any change in the yearly number of marriages, there has been an increase in the number of extramarital births which in 2002 represented 14.6 per cent of live births. Moreover, the number of civil marriages has been on the increase. In 1993 there were 275 civil marriages out of a total of 2,476. During 2002 there were 2,240 marriages contracted, including 575 civil marriages.
There has been quite an improvement in life expectancy during the past years, whereas also registered was a noticeable drop in infant mortality rates. In 1993 the infant mortality rate was 8.2, whilst in 2002 it stood at 6.0. The number of deaths per year has averaged at 2,800 over the past decade.

Copyright © Newsworks Ltd. Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Business Times, Newsworks Ltd, 2 Cali House, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann SGN 02, Malta
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