The National Institute of Statistics and Censuses reported Tuesday that Ecuador’s population has surpassed the 18 million mark but says growth is beginning moderate as the birth rate drops.
The country’s population will be confirmed officially following a national census to be conducted in November and December.
The Institute projects the population will reach 23.4 million by 2050 when it will level off. “Much of the growth in the past five years is due to migration, especially from Colombia and Venezuela, and we believe this will reduce in the coming years,” the Institute said in a report. It estimated that about a million migrants have arrived in the country since 2015 and many of them are in the process of establishing legal residency or citizenship.
The report noted that the birth rate has “dropped dramatically” in recent decades. “Although Ecuador’s birth rate far exceeds that of many other countries, including the U.S., China and members of the European Union, it is following the international trend toward smaller families.”
Ana Cecilia Salazar, sociology professor at the University of Cuenca, says that Ecuador’s birth rate has declined by 50 percent since 1970. “This is causing a major demographic shift which will mean major changes to society,” she says. “As the population ages there will more emphasis on services for the elderly and less on education, as the number of school children declines.”
She points to statistics released this week that shows births in Azuay Province have declined from 14,587 in 2013 to 10,073 in 2021. “This is a big drop especially when you consider that the population of the province increased by almost 20 percent over the same period,” she says. “Obviously, there in a great amount of in-migration, with almost all of it going to Cuenca. The numbers show that the new migrants are not having many children.”
A particular area of concern, says Salazar, is maintaining the country’s Social Security system. “It is already in distress, witnessed by the state of emergency it is now under, but the funding strains will only grow as less of the population is of working age and actively contributing.”