Demographic Changes in North Korea (1993-2008)

Population and Development Review
March 2012
Thomas Spoorenberg and Daniel Schwekendiek

Using the 1993 and 2008 national population and housing census data, this article uses population projection to reconstruct the population trends of North Korea over the 15 intercensal years. The article is structured as follows: a brief history of North Korea over the last 60 years is provided. The 1993 and 2008 census data—population by age and sex, fertility, and mortality indicators—are described and critically assessed. From this censusbased demographic evidence and other existing demographic estimates, the population dynamics of the country is reconstructed prospectively from 1993 to 2008 through population projections testing the plausibility of different population trends. Finally, counterfactual population projections are run in order to estimate (1) the demographic impact of the famine in the 1990s and (2) the human cost of the deteriorating living conditions in North Korea that were widely reported during the 1990s and 2000s.


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