Iraq's Housing Crisis Worsens

By Omar al-Shaher for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Iraq has recorded a steady population growth, which reached its peak last year at 2.9% — one of the highest rates in the world, officials say.

The growth comes at a time when the country is facing a severe housing crisis. Rental fees for residential units have doubled, and real estate prices have risen dramatically.

The Central Bureau of Statistics, part of the Ministry of Planning, said the population growth rate in Iraq last year was about 2.9%, one of the highest in the world.

Mahdi al-Alaq, the head of the statistics bureau, said Iraq's population increased by about 1 million over the past year, bringing the country’s total to about 34.5 million.

The statistics are estimates; Iraq has failed to carry out a complete national census in recent years because of Arab-Kurd disagreements over disputed areas.

Iraq’s last national census, in 1997, put the population at about 19 million, excluding three Kurdish-dominated provinces in the north. At the time, officials estimated the population of those three provinces to be 3 million.

Beginning in the 1930s, Iraq held a census every 10 years or so. Before the 1997 census, Iraq had carried out censuses in 1934, 1947, 1957, 1965, 1977 and 1987.

Instead of holding a census, in 2009 the Ministry of Planning released an estimate of the number of people and enterprises; it has been updating this figure annually.

Alaq said, "Recent data has enabled us to reach a population for urban and rural areas, and at the level of districts and provinces."

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