In 2010, during the census taken of the entire country of Panama, there were 3,322,576 registered residents on the isthmus. Now, according to new data, that number could reach over 4,000,000 the end of 2019. This is a massive increase for such a small amount of time, and one that many believe is a positive sign of both economic growth, and quality of life increases. During this same period, Panama added thousands of new houses and residential buildings to meet the demand, sparking a construction boom unlike any in the region. Now, as the population continues to surge, Panama continues to work hard to meet growth for relocation and international investment.
Why is Panama’s population surging?
If you look at the country’s population growth over the past 60+ years, you’ll see that it has been increasing for decades. According to census statistics, Panama’s population grew from 839,000 in 1950 to 3,322,576 in 2010. Due to urbanization, industrial growth, and increased demand from the Canal, this number is fairly normal. However, going from 3,322,576 to an estimated 4,000,000 + in under ten years, is much more of a big deal. A lot of this growth has to do with immigration, and Panama’s relationships with neighboring countries, and their economies.
Also, a steadily increasing quality of life for Panamanians has made it easier for families to have more children, and raise them here locally. In fact, many Panamanians who had been living abroad returned to Panama over this period of time, in order to take advantage of the positive economic climate, and quality of life.
It’s all about economics when it comes to Panama’s population growth
While Panama certainly hasn’t seen all of this growth as a foreign immigration trend, it certainly plays a big part of it. Economic opportunities in Panama have made it a go-to place for workers in Central and South America, as well as investors from there and all over the world. The minimum wage in Panama is the highest in the region, and low tax rates make investing and opening a business much easier that it would be practically anywhere in this part of the world. Business opportunities abound in Panama, and this has a trickle down effect when it comes to quality of life, and where people choose to live.
The rapid urbanization of Panama
Between 1950 and today, Panama’s urban population has skyrocketed. The country has gone from a predominantly rural populated country to an overwhelmingly urban one. This is a trend that has seen similar patterns globally, due to the nature of the world’s economies, and access to services. As of today, around 70% of Panama’s total population lives in Panama City and its surrounding areas, and most of the remaining 30% live in the country’s smaller cities, rather than rural towns.
Is this population growth sustainable?
From the outset, it appears to be, but this will rely heavily on Panama continuing to grow their infrastructure. Construction of new properties (residential and commercial) hasn’t slowed down in this nine-year period, which is a very positive sign. Also, jobs have continued to grow, and unemployment is less than 5%, which is practically unheard of in Central American economies. If Panama can continue to provide new jobs, and new opportunities for living and investment, this growth should be sustainable for the immediate future. The real question is, can they keep up with demand fast enough?