The Malta Independent 8 December 2021, Wednesday

Average Age in Malta hits 40

Malta Independent Thursday, 4 October 2012, 00:00 Last update: about 8 years ago

The 2011 census shows that the average age of the Maltese population has exceeded 40 for what is probably the first time in the islands’ history.

Preliminary results issued by the National Statistics Office yesterday show that the population at census day – 20 November, 2011 – is estimated to be 416,055, up from the 404,962 recorded in the 2005 census.

The census is the 17th to be held in Malta – the first was held in 1842 – and the population increased each time with one exception: heavy emigration saw the population drop by over 5,000 between 1957 and 1967. The rate of population growth, however, has been slowing down over the past few years.

Nevertheless, Malta remains – by far – the most densely-populated EU member state, with a population density of 1,320 persons per square kilometre. The EU average is just 116.6 persons, while the second most densely-populated country, the Netherlands, has a density of “just” 492.2 persons per square kilometre.

Gozo’s density is, unsurprisingly much lower than Malta’s, at 454. Given its tiny population and relatively large territory, Għasri is the only Maltese locality within the overall EU average, with a density of just 85 persons per square kilometre.

The preliminary results also revealed a clear shift towards an older population, with the average age increasing from 38.5 in 2005 to 40.5 last year. Since 2005, the proportion of people aged 65 and over has overtaken the proportion of those aged 14 and under: the former increased from 13.7% to 16.3% while the latter decreased from 17.2% to 14.8%.

The census also shows that the number of non-Maltese nationals in Malta has increased significantly, from 12,112 in 2005 to an estimated 20,086 last year, an amount which represented 4.8% of the population.

While the population is still made up of more women then men, the gender gap is narrowing. There are now 1,008 females per 1,000 males.

Population shifts

The harbour area continues to be Malta’s most densely populated area – the Northern Harbour and the Southern Harbour districts account for just under half of the total population – but its population has fallen as a slight increase in the former district did not make up for the decrease registered in the latter.

The results show that people have been moving to localities further away from Valletta: the largest increases were registered in the Northern and the South Eastern districts.

The population in Gozo remained practically unchanged, increasing by just over 100 people to 31,143 since 2005.

With an estimated 21,533 residents, Birkirkara remains Malta’s most populous locality, but its population has decreased slightly since 2005. Mosta remains the second-largest with a population of 19,650.

Due to its population growing by 22.9% since 2005 – the second-highest rate behind Xgħajra’s 26.5% - St Paul’s Bay now occupies the third spot with a population of 16,478, overtaking Qormi, whose population has slightly decreased to 16,312.

The largest proportional decrease in population occurred in Ta’ Xbiex, which lost 16.8% of its population since 2005. Mdina lost 14.7% and Senglea 11.5%; but the latter, Malta’s smallest locality, is still its most densely populated.

The population exceeds 10,000 in 16 of Malta’s 68 localities, with Birżebbuġa and Żurrieq added to the list since the last census.

With just 237 people, Mdina is Malta’s least-populous locality, while the least-populous Gozitan locality is Għasri, which counts 427 residents.

Mammoth task still underway

In European countries, the census is typically held every ten years, and Malta is no exception. However, this time round, a fresh census was held after just 6 years to align Malta to the rest of the EU.

The census, NSO director-general Michael Pace Ross explained, was the largest task Malta’s statistical body had to handle. Its premises were insufficient for the task, so it rented the ex-Pilar School in Valletta between October 2011 and May 2012 to house the Census Office.

Nearly 1,200 persons were involved: Mr Pace Ross as census officer, two deputies, three coordinators, six district managers, five area supervisors, 28 call centre operators, 91 supervisors and 1,021 enumerators.

Each enumerator was assigned an enumeration area, consisting of around 180-230 dwellings, and was tasked with collecting census questionnaires and helping people fill them in where required. Supervisors were tasked with coordinating enumerators in their assigned area, and were answerable to district managers.

A total of 153,000 households received questionnaires, and enumerators collected questionnaires between last 7 November and 4 December. Over 146,000 questionnaires have been collected to date, representing almost 98% of the total estimated number of occupied dwellings in the country.

Households with which contact was not established during the census period are still being followed up by the Census Office.

Participation in the census is obligatory, and failure to do so is subject to legal action. Follow-up letters were sent to households from which no reply was received last March, and a legal letter was sent last month.

The final results, which are expected to be ready early next year, will thus provide more accurate population figures, as well as further information – including the amount of vacant dwellings. Mr Pace Ross said that in any case, the total population is not expected to deviate by more than 3,000 people either way.

Facts and figures

1,320 persons per square kilometre

10,000+ in 16 of Malta’s 68 localities

1,008 females per 1,000 males

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