A Guide to Egypt's Challenges: Overpopulation

Bassem Sabry , Thursday 16 Aug 2012

Bassem Sabry provides a multi-pronged overview of the political, economic and social challenges facing Egypt's first post-Mubarak president, with an emphasis on the everyday problems facing average Egyptians

Tahrir Square
File photo: Egyptian pro-democracy supporters gather in Tahrir Square in Cairo February 18, 2011. (Photo: AP)

It was recently reported that Egypt’s population has finally touched the long-anticipated 90 million landmark, with 82 million living within Egypt and eight million living abroad as expatriates, many of whom live in volatile conditions, putting Egypt in the top 15 most populous countries in the world. 2008 CAPMAS (Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics) figures, which remain pertinent, suggested Egypt was currently growing at an annual rate of nearly 1.9 million people, while aggressive 2010 estimates claimed Egypt could be home to 140-155 million people by 2050, on current growth patterns.

Egypt’s fertility rate has significantly dropped from the 1960s when it was at a remarkable 7.2 children per woman, down to 3.2 in 1998 and where it is hoped to reach two children per woman by 2030, under National Democratic Party population policies that largely remain intact.

Alternatively, using World Bank figures for the purpose of contrast, estimates claim Egypt’s population grows at around 1.7 per cent, compared to other countries with similar populations such as Vietnam at one per cent, Ethiopia at  2.1 per cent, and Germany at (negative) -0.1 per cent.

As other points in this report demonstrate, such high growth rates have diluted or dissipated many of the positive effects of economic growth and public policies pursued in Egypt over the last few decades, and have lead to difficult and strained living conditions for a significant number of Egyptians on all fronts.

As a quick indication: Egypt ranked 85th from 137 in the Quality Of Life Index, and even dropped one spot to 117th out of 187 in the 2011 Human Development Index, garnering the status of “medium human development.” Another interesting fact: two thirds of Egypt’s population is under the age of 30, indicating a young and invigorated population. Most of the unemployment, however, is also within that same age bracket.

See also:

The Economy

Subsidies & the Budget

Food Security

Fuel & Electricity Shortages

Slums & Random Housing

Religious Freedoms, Minorities

Judiciary & Education

The Interior Ministry

Freedom of Speech, Media & the Arts


Women's Rights, Street Children

The Public Sector & Privatisation



Saving Cairo!

Healthcare & Hepatitis

National Reconciliation


Short link: