July 30th, 2012 by Hafiz Noor Shams
I was reading, or rather re-reading, the Economic Transformation Program and I was a bit obsessed with its projection of 3.3 million total new jobs between whenever the program was supposed to begin up to year 2020. The figure sounds a bit too optimistic that I do not think there will enough workers to take up the jobs, especially the geometric average growth between 2000 and 2010 was just below 2.0% per year and when population growth for 2010 was at the measly 1.5% per year. The population growth rate is slowing down.
So, I did a bit of investigation and was planning to do some back-of-the-envelope modeling until a different but related matter attracted my attention. It is the population profile for Malaysia.
The chart was pulled directly from the Department of Statistics because I was too lazy to pull out the numbers from a database available to me at work. It was already 5PM at the time I started writing this and I did not want to stay in the office for too long today, especially when I had to pack my belongings to catch a plane early the day after tomorrow.
Anyway, what interested me here was the population increase. Specifically, population increase according to cohorts.
The chart shows how important (legal) immigration is to Malaysian population growth.
How do you spot immigration from the graph?
Well, under an autarkic case where there is no immigration, it is impossible for a cohort in a particular year to increase in size in later years.
Yet, if you look at the chart, all cohorts between 0 and 34 actually increased in size in the 10 years that passed between the two population surveys (2000 and 2010). To be clear, the 0-34 cohorts in 2000 should be compared with those aged from 10 to 44 in 2010.
There are two explanations that I can think of. One, which is less likely or probably insignificant, error in one of the surveys, or both. Two, which is likelier, is immigration.
That was a pretty sizable legal immigration between 2000 and 2010. Easily more than 1 million legal immigrants in 10 years.
Most of the immigrants were in their prime years. In other words, they were young, productive and probably contributed to economic growth.
But there is one peculiarity. Look at the 65-69 cohort in 2000. In 2010, the above 75-year-old cohort increased. Odd is it not? Or maybe Malaysian longevity is getting really good.
Other cohorts exhibited a decreasing trend.