Demographic Profile

Chile Table of Contents

A new decennial census was taken in 1992. Some of its data were already available officially as of this writing, but other data were still in the process of being tabulated. The total population was officially given as 13,348,401, of which 6,553,254 were male and 6,795,147 were female. According to that data, the average population density in 1992 remained 17.6 inhabitants per square kilometer. Population density varied greatly, however, from the sparsely populated far north and far south to the much more densely inhabited central Chile. In 1993 the figure rose to 18 inhabitants per square kilometer. The new total population figure shows that the growth of the population in the ten years between the 1982 and the 1992 censuses was about 1.7 percent per annum.

The National Statistics Institute (Instituto Nacional de Estadísticas--IME) estimated the birthrate in 1991 at 22.4 per 1,000 population, an increase over 1985, when the rate stood at 21.6 per 1,000. This has led to a corresponding widening of the base of the age pyramid of the population, which had narrowed significantly with the decline in the birthrate that began in the mid- to late 1960s. The current increase in the birthrate is a slight demographic echo of the birth control programs that began in the mid-1960s. These programs reduced the fertility of women of childbearing age, causing the original drop in the birthrate, whereas the rise in the early 1990s resulted from children born to new generations of women who have reached the childbearing period of their lives. Whereas women of childbearing age (fourteen to forty-nine years) had had an average of 4.09 children in 1967; by 1992 this average had dropped to 2.39.

With the declining birthrate and no significant increase in immigration, much of the growth in the Chilean population over the 1970s and 1980s resulted from a decline in mortality. The mortality rate in 1992 was estimated at 5.6 per 1,000 population, whereas in 1960 it had been more than twice that, at 12.5 per 1,000. In 1990 life expectancy at birth was estimated at 71.0 years (sixty-eight for men and seventy-five for women), up from the 1960 figure of 57.1 years (57.6 for men and 63.7 for women). These improvements resulted in part from better health care beyond the first year of life, but they are explained primarily by a dramatic decline in infant mortality during the 1960-90 period. In 1960 infant mortality was 119.5 per 1,000 live births, and by 1991 it had declined to 14.6 per 1,000. This latter rate, one of the lowest in Latin America, indicated the success of the various health programs for expectant mothers and infants implemented since the late 1960s. In the early 1990s, the Chilean population was older than it has been in the 1960s. The 1982 census revealed for the first time ever that the population included a majority of adults over twenty-one years of age. Yet it was still a very young population: 49 percent of Chileans were estimated in 1991 to be less than twenty-four years of age.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress