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Bibliography on the 1997 census of Iraq

This was not a full national census, as it did not include the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region, and for that reason cannot be listed as a true national census.


AFTER THE WAR: POPULATION PUZZLE; Fewer Iraqi Men: Dead or Undercounted?

By Felicity Barringer
Aug. 8, 2003

An unusually high portion of Iraq's men seemingly disappeared between and , newly released data from the most recent Iraqi census show.

The data, which Saddam Hussein sealed as a state secret, reveal previously unseen population scars left by years of war and repression.

In census takers recorded about 106 men for every 100 women; a decade later they found just under 99 men for every 100 women, a very big change in demographic terms.

Where did the men go? Or, looking at it another way, where did the women come from?

Demographers at the United Nations and the United States Census Bureau say that perhaps the men were casualties of war or Mr. Hussein's repression, or became exiles. Or perhaps the men simply made themselves scarce at census time.

It is also possible that the census counters in , for the first time, were careful to count women, whom they may have undercounted in earlier years.

Joseph Chamie, the director of the United Nations population division, said he found that last explanation unlikely.

If the figures are accurate, he said, then the drop in the male-female ratio could well reflect a striking loss of men, who were either victims of violence or fled abroad to avoid it. But he cautioned against assuming such accuracy, saying, All data are guilty until proven innocent.

The lowest reported male-female ratios were clustered in the southern third of the country, where Mr. Hussein persecuted the Shiite Muslims after their uprising in .

In the district around Basra, the southernmost portion of the country, census takers found 97 men for every 100 women. In that province's rural areas, the home of the predominantly Shiite marsh Arabs who were a particular target of Mr. Hussein's wrath, there were 95 men for every 100 women, down from 103 in .

Baghdad, with 5.4 million people, was the single most populous geographic area in ; the southwestern province of Muthanna was the least populous, with 437,000. In Baghdad the sex ratio still tilted toward men, with 101 men for every 100 women. Muthanna's ratio of 94 men for every 100 women was among the lowest.

Mr. Chamie said he suspected it might be that many of the missing men were not lost but in hiding, fearing they would be drafted or, if they were Kurds or Shiites, subjected to the indiscriminate vengeance of Mr. Hussein's government.

There was the Iranian war, Mr. Chamie said, referring to the grinding conflict between Iraq and Iran that lasted from to . Then there was the gulf war.

Then, after the gulf war in '91 [], there were conflicts in the south and in the north, he said, referring to the government crackdowns in the rebellious Shiite and Kurdish regions.

He added: Now, several years later, someone comes knocking on the door and asks, How many males are here? You're not going to get a lot of cooperation. There would be a lack of trust, especially if they thought they were going to be sent to the front in another gulf war.

Over all, the population count showed 22 million people in Iraq, including about 2.9 million in the three Kurdish provinces, where the population was estimated, not counted. International estimates put Iraq's total population at more than 25 million today.

The data now under scrutiny in Washington, New York, London and Amman are obviously dated. Iraq's census results were treated as state secrets by the Hussein government, some demographers here and at the United States Census Bureau in Suitland, Md., said this week.

But the new data provide the first outlines of a demographic portrait hidden from view until now.

The figures could be the basis of an electoral apportionment and so a building block of the democratic election promised to Iraqis by the provisional authority, said Col. Allen Irish, a United States Army officer working with the provisional authority in Baghdad.

At this point we're still planning, he said in a telephone interview. Ultimately it's going to be a decision made by the governing authority, whether that's the Governing Council or the coalition provisional authority or some interim group.

One of the problems with the data, he added, is that they include no information from the three northern provinces in the Kurdish region.

In the early days after the war, it looked as if there would be no data from anywhere.

The Ministry of Planning was bombed and then looted, Colonel Irish said. The individual census records are pretty much destroyed, but the aggregated data survived. I remember being in the building and seeing what looked like census records strewn all over the floor and burned and pretty much trashed.

When no Iraqi census officials could be found, he said, We ended up putting an announcement on the radio: show up at this spot at such and such a time. The officials then appeared and later brought the data they had preserved.

But more analysis is needed. Tom McDevitt, an international demographer with the United States Census Bureau said, If you are working under the hypothesis that where the men went was they got killed either in the Iran-Iraq war or the gulf war or were just eliminated somewhere along the line, then you would expect to find the sex ratios in certain age groups deviating from those of the overall population.

The new data on child mortality, of great interest to those who argued that United Nations sanctions were leaving Iraqi children underfed and without access to basic pharmaceuticals, are still being analyzed.

But, Mr. McDevitt said, on a preliminary basis it looks like the child mortality may not have been quite as high during the mid- to late 1990's as has been thought on the limited information we've had from other sources.

The changes in Iraq, however striking, still fall far short of the cataclysmic changes in the post-World War II populations of Germany, France and Russia.

Germany had 85 men per 100 women in ; it had 96 in . In Russia had 75 men per 100 women; it now has 88. In France the figure was 93; it is now 95.

, New York Times

In 1997, the government of Iraq held a census in 15 of the country's 18 governorates that remained under its control (three, predominantly Kurdish, northern governorates had become autonomous). ... It took several years for the census data to be processed and for the resulting report to be published in Arabic in Iraq. Furthermore, it was not until after the US/UK invasion in 2003 that a copy of the census report was obtained by the US Census Bureau, and subsequently the United Nations. Indeed, the existence of the report only became evident to the wider world through a UN press briefing in 2003. The briefing gave little information on the census results, and no specific data on child mortality. However, in a New York Times report on the briefing, a US Census Bureau demographer was quoted as saying that on a preliminary basis it looks like child mortality may not have been quite as high during the mid to late 1990s as has been thought. [Barringer 2003].

Dyson, 2006

Census finds most Iraqis live in cities

BAGHDAD — Iraq's first census in 10 years found that 22,017,983 people live in Iraq, 68 percent of them in cities.

Totals from Thursday's head count were announced yesterday. The 1987 census put Iraq's population at 16,287,316.

, Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, NY)

Census: 22 million people in country

WHAT HAPPENED: About 22 million people live in Iraq, two-thirds of them in cities, Iraq's first census in 10 years found.

About 150,000 government workers conducted the head count Thursday, fanning out across the country. They were aided by a 4 a.m. to 8 p.m. curfew that left the streets of Baghdad deserted.

BACKGROUND: The last census in 1987 put Iraq's population at 16,287,316.

The initial results of this year's census found that 14,994,208 people, or 68 percent, lived in cities.

The results, announced Friday, put the overall population at 22,017,983.

WHAT'S NEXT: The findings are expected to shed light on the toll taken by Iraq's two latest wars — the Iran-Iraq war and the Persian Gulf War — and by seven years of U.N. economic sanctions.

, The Galveston Daily News (Galveston, TX)

Iraq takes census count

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) — Nearly 150,000 government officials fanned out across Iraq on Thursday to conduct a national census that may shed light on the toll taken by Iraq's two wars and seven years of crippling U.N. economic sanctions.

The last census put Iraq's population at 16,287,316, but that was in 1987, before the end of the 1980-88 war with Iran and the 1991 Gulf war with a U.S.-led alliance over Iraq's occupation of Kuwait.

No official toll of the first war was ever disclosed, but it is estimated that about 1 million people were killed on both sides.

The 1991 Gulf war toll goes beyond the losses on the war front. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis fled abroad. In the aftermath of the war, President Saddam Hussein's forces crushed a rebellion by Shiite Muslims, killing thousands.

Also, Iraq claims the U.N. economic sanctions to punish it for invading Kuwait have killed tens of thousands of people, mostly children, due to malnutrition and lack of health care.

No census will be held in the Kurdish region in the north, which was made out of bounds for Saddam's government by Western allies after he crushed a Kurdish rebellion there in 1991.

, Reno Gazette-Journal (Reno, NV)

Iraq residents stay home as national census taken

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Iraqis stayed home Thursday as the country, said to have instituted the world's first national population count in 2000 B.C., conducted a census. About 150,000 census-takers fanned out across the country to visit every residence. Traffic was restricted to officials involved in the head count, stores were closed, and police patrolled intersections to ensure no one violated a curfew of 4 a.m. to 9 p.m.

[Another article said until 8 p.m.]

, The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, FL)

Photo of the census,