In my August 29th posting, The Kenya Census, I wrote about the census with the comment, “The estimated [Kenyan] population totals I have seen are between 49.4 million and 52.4 million, a rather large spread of 3 million people or almost 6%.” On Monday the results of the census was announced. The total was 47,564,300 people. This is more than 10% less than the projected high end total and 4% less than the low end projection. Wow, 2 million to 5 million ghost people have just evaporated from Kenya! How could the projections be so wrong?

On August 1, I wrote a Report from Kenya titled
How Many Kenyans are There? In it I wrote :

It is not clear how many people live in Kenya. The United Nations Population Division indicates that in 2018 there were 51,392,565 Kenyans. On the other hand the CIA Factbook reports 48,397,527 Kenyans. This is a difference of 2,995,038 people or almost 6%. The UN Population Division states that the 2018 fertility rate is 3.65 children per woman of child bearing age versus the CIA Factbook’s 2.81 children per woman. This is a difference of 0.84 children per woman. What is going on?… As I look at [my] 23 nieces and nephews, I see a dramatic decline… Nowhere [in western Kenya] do I see younger women with many, many children, two years apart, as I did in the late 1960s.

Over 5 years ago on September 23, 2014, I wrote a Report from Kenya under the title World Population will not Reach 12 Billion in 2010. I predicted this decline then and find that I estimated much better than the “professional” United Nations Population Division. Here is what I wrote then:

As I look around Kenya, I don’t see this. I notice that very few teenagers are now giving birth – one of the prerequisites for a fall in the birth rate. Young women are not having anything like 4.8 children each…My observations — after living in Kenya in the 1960’s when Kenya had the highest birth rate in the world with women averaging 8 children each at the end of their childbearing years – is that at this time Kenya is perhaps having the fastest demographic transition in the world from a high population increase to replacement level.  The UN Population Division, of course, has to statistically slowly drop the birth rate depending upon their statistical projections. My point it that the reality on the ground indicates a rapid drop in the birth rate. Emphasis added.

In that 2014 Report, I indicated that I estimated that the Kenyan’s population would peak at 87.5 million people. This is much less than the UN Population Division’s estimate of the 2100 population in 2014 of 160.42 million people. Already five years later, their projection has declined to 125.24 million people for a drop of 35.18 million people. This new population total means that my projection of 87.5 million people will need to be revised downward.

There have been concerns that the United Nations Population Division has been over-estimating population increase. Their projection for the Kenyan population in 2019 was 52,574,000 people or 5,009,700 people more than the actual number of 47,564,300 people. This is an amazing 10.5% over-estimate of Kenya’s population. Will the UN Population Division now revise their numbers to conform to the next census total? The annual population increase for the world is estimated at 82 million people per year. Will this figure now reflect the missing 5 million people from Kenya and be 77 million people? I will be looking to see what they will do.

This mis-estimation by the UN Population Division has larger implications. Their current population projections to 2050 indicate that 59% of the world’s population increase will be in Africa. If it can be this far off in its short ten year projections for Kenya, which has one of the better methodology in Africa, how reliable is it for the rest of Africa? In my opinion, UN Population Division numbers are highly suspect. If it is over-estimating populations in Africa by 10%, then Africa’s population is going to stabilized decades sooner than it is projecting at a substantially lower maximum number of people.


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David Zarembka

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