Keys to the Kingdom
National Anthem
The Office
Human Resources


The Demographic Challenge

To appreciate the extent of the challenge Jordan faces in improving the lives of its people, one must examine the country’s difficult demographic circumstances. Jordan’s 1997 population reached 4.6 million, a figure twice that of only 1981.

Family size has decreased since the 1979 survey from an average of 6.7 members to about 6.1 members per family at present. Statistics also indicate that Jordan has recently seen a high annual population growth rate—approximately 3.4 percent—much of which can be attributed to forced migration as a result of the 1990-91 Gulf Crisis. The country’s natural growth rate stands at about 2.5 percent, and by the year 2012 Jordan’s population is expected to double. The high natural population growth rate can be attributed to relatively sudden advances in extending life expectancy and reducing infant mortality, combined with the comparatively slower reduction in high fertility rates.

Jordan’s population increase has also been fueled by periodic waves of Palestinian refugees seeking shelter. Refugees from the 1948 and 1967 Arab-Israeli wars account for a considerable part of Jordan's population, and altogether there are about one million registered Palestinian refugees in Jordan. The Gulf Crisis brought a new wave of homeless people, as over one million third-country evacuees and around 300,000 Jordanians found refuge in Jordan. Besides the sudden added demand on the country's services and infrastructure, the returnees have also exacerbated the domestic water shortage. Jordan is not alone in the region to suffer from an imbalance between natural resource endowments and population growth. Similar imbalances exist throughout the region, especially in the occupied Palestinian territories and in Israel. However, Jordan is unique in that it has shouldered a high natural growth rate as well as a large refugee population.

Jordan’s scarcity of natural resources, especially its chronic shortage of water, makes population control a vital matter, and the country has made some progress in slowing the rate of growth. Although a rate of 3.4 percent remains very high, during the early 1980s the figure stood at 3.8 percent. To stem the rapid growth rate, Jordan's National Population Commission has introduced birth-spacing programs on a national level. The result has been a growing awareness among Jordanians of the benefits of family planning, and figures indicate that a majority of Jordanian wives are now using contraceptives.