Iraq records more than 1.25 million births during 2020

Students at an Iraqi elementary school. (Photo: UNICEF)
Students at an Iraqi elementary school. (Photo: UNICEF)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraq announced this week that more than 1.2 million babies were born in the nation in 2020, bringing the total population to more than 40 million individuals.

It added that, of those new births, the proportion of males exceeded females by more than a half-million.

Iraq’s Ministry of Planning said in a statement released on Monday, World Population Day, that "Iraq recorded 1,258,026 live births during the past year 2020, and 224,279 deaths out of a total population of 40,250,300 people."

"The male population has reached 20,336,180 people, while the female population has reached 19,784,000," the statement explained, according to population estimates prepared by the Central Bureau of Statistics.

Concerning the age structure of the population, it continued, "the number of young people aged 15-24 years reached 8.1 million constituted 20 percent of the total population, the age group 10-15 years constituted 11 percent of the total population, while 30-34 years constituted 9 percent of the total population."

Planning Ministry Spokesperson Abdul-Zahra al-Hindawi also stated, "The COVID-19 pandemic caused a stifling financial crisis, with which the Ministry of Planning was unable to implement their plan for a general census despite the national preparations of the ministry in preparing special systems and programs to implement the count electronically."

Read More: Iraq: COVID, elections and lack of funding postpones first comprehensive census since 1987

The statement noted that the process of building a digital database for the entire Iraqi population is the first stage of the new measure.

“The registry will be linked with the databases of the Ministry of Interior, which will include the National ID Card and the Housing and Residence card, the Ministry of Health to include births and deaths data, the Supreme Judicial Council for marriage and divorce data, and the Ministry of Commerce for ration card data, to form a population record that is updated simultaneously,” he added.

Iraq’s last census was held in 1997 and did not include the Kurdistan Region. More recent counts generally estimate population based on statistics provided by the national food ration program and have often been incomplete in disputed territories.  

A full accounting of regional populations is crucial for planning and budgeting in any nation. In Iraq, where mass displacement and campaigns of ethnic cleansing have been endemic to conflict for decades, such a survey takes on political significance. Lack of reliable statistics has fueled discord between rival populations claiming majorities in various regions of Iraq, most notably in the oil-rich province of Kirkuk, adding to the difficulty of addressing fundamental disagreements.

Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution provides a legal mechanism for resolving the outcome of the disputed territories, partially based on updated census results. The provision was introduced to allow the 2005 ratification of the constitution by kicking controversial decisions on the disputed territories down the road, but has still never been implemented.

Editing by John J. Catherine