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First Pages of Chapter Seven: Demographic, Economic and Educational Indicators 2012-2013



Doubtless demographic, economic and educational statistics are important indicators regarding the situation of the Palestinian people and its possible future trends. Yet, while examining these figures, it is important to consider the fact that the Palestinian people face exceptional conditions. This is because a part of the Palestinian people is living under the brutal Israeli occupation with all its tools of destruction, suppression, and exploitation, while the other part lives in the Diaspora and exile, suffering the bitterness of homelessness, refuge and denial. Here lies the problem of statistical studies: they do not pinpoint this exceptional situation and the role of the occupation in foiling the productive and creative ability of the Palestinian people, or in disabling institutional structures of the Palestinian state and its institutions. Moreover, some statistics, especially on the demographic level, are only rough figures due to the presence of a large number of Palestinians living abroad in different countries and under diversified political regimes.

This chapter seeks to present, comprehensively and objectively, the Palestinian demographic situation at home and abroad. However, in its study of economic and educational aspects, the chapter focuses on the WB and GS as statistics provided by concerned PA institutions tend to be more accurate than those from other governments.

First: Demographic Indicators

1. The Palestinian Population Worldwide

Palestinians worldwide were estimated at 11.807 million in 2013 compared to around 11.553 million in 2012 and 11.225 million in 2011.

Based on place of residence, Palestinians are categorized into Palestinians living in historic Palestine, which includes the territories occupied in 1948 and 1967, and those in the Diaspora. On one hand, Palestinians in historic Palestine are estimated at 5.916 million forming half the Palestinians worldwide. 4.485 million Palestinians, amounting to 38% of Palestinians worldwide, live in territories occupied in 1967, while 1.43 million Palestinians live in territories occupied in 1948 (Israel), forming around 12.1% of Palestinians worldwide (see table 1/7).

On the other hand, Palestinians in the Diaspora are estimated to number 5.891 million, amounting to half the Palestinians worldwide. These Palestinians are mostly concentrated in neighboring Arab countries, especially Jordan, which was home to around 3.535 million Palestinians at the end of 2013, 29.9% of Palestinians worldwide. Palestinians in other Arab countries are estimated at 1.691 million, thus forming 14.3% of Palestinians worldwide, and they are mostly present in neighboring Arab countries including Lebanon, Syria, Egypt and the Gulf countries. Palestinians in foreign countries total an estimated 665 thousands, 5.6% of Palestinians worldwide (see table 1/7).

At the end of 2012, Palestinians worldwide were estimated to number 11.553 million, of whom 4.357 million were living in the WB and GS, in addition to around 1.398 million Palestinians in territories occupied in 1948, 3.459 million in Jordan and 1.683 million in other Arab countries. Their number in foreign countries was estimated to be 656 thousands (see table 1/7).

Palestinian refugees are not only those living outside Palestine, but they also include around 1.924 million refugees in Palestinian territories occupied in 1967, in addition to 150 thousand refugees expelled from their lands but still living in the territories occupied in 1948 (Israel). According to 2012 estimates, the number of Palestinian refugees is 7.872 million amounting to 68.1% of the total Palestinian population. There is a lack of reliability in calculating some figures due to changes of country of residence or citizenship, but this will be of marginal impact due to the large overall number of Palestinian refugees.

2. The Demographic Characteristics of Palestinians

a. The WB and GS

The number of Palestinians in the WB and GS at the end of 2013 was estimated at 4.485 million of whom 2.755 million lived in the WB (61.4%) and 1.731 million in the GS (38.6%).

Estimates for 2013 show that 44.2% of Palestinians in the WB and GS are refugees descending from the territories occupied in 1948 and estimated to total 1.984 million refugees. Around 818 thousand refugees were found to be living in the WB, thus constituting 29.7% of total WB Palestinians, while in GS their number reached 1.166 million refugees, 67.4% of the total Gazan population.

The Palestinian community in the WB and GS is considered to be young with those aged under 15 years were estimated at 39.9% of the population by the end of 2013. However, there is stark difference between the WB and GS, as 37.7% of the population in the former is aged under 15 years compared to 43.3% in the latter. Conversely, the elderly (65 years and over) constitute only a small percentage of the total population, estimated at 2.9%, with 3.2% in the WB and 2.4% in the GS (see table 5/7).
Males in the WB and GS were estimated at 2.279 million at the end of 2013 compared to 2.207 million females, with a sex ratio 103.2 males per 100 females. In the WB, there were around 1.399 million males compared to 1.355 million females with a sex ratio 103.3. In the GS, males amounted to 879 thousands compared to 852 thousand females, with a sex ratio of 103.2. 
Data show that the dependency rate (number of dependent persons per 100 individuals at work age, 15–64 years) in the WB and GS decreased from 101.3 in 1997 to 74.8 in 2013. However, dependency rate in the WB is lower than that in the GS and it decreased in the former from 94.7 in 1997 to 69.5 in 2013, whereas in the latter it decreased from 114.5 in 1997 to 84.1 in 2013.
Data also show a slight increase in median age (age that divides the population into two numerically equal groups, i.e., half the population is below that age and half above it) in the WB and GS during 1997–2013, where it ranged between 16.4 years in 1997 and 19.3 years in 2013. Comparing WB and GS figures during the same period shows a difference in median age, which increased in the WB from 17.4 years in 1997 to 20.3 years in 2013 and in the GS from 14.8 years in 1997 to 17.9 years in 2013.

[1]   This study is the approved English translation of chapter seven of the book entitled: The Palestinian Strategic Report 2012–2013, edited by Prof. Dr. Mohsen Mohammad Saleh. Al-Zaytouna Centre for Studies and Consultations in Beirut released the Arabic version in 2014. The first draft of this chapter was written by Mr. ‘Abdullah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Najjar, Prof. Dr. Moein Muhammad ‘Atta Ragab and the editorial team at al-Zaytouna Centre.

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The Executive Summary of The Palestinian Strategic Report 2012–2013 and the Expected Trends for 2014


Al-Zaytouna Centre for Studies and Consultations, 15/12/2015