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Population Census 2005


Lao Info 4.1


NHDR 2006




Chapter 1: Population size and composition


This chapter deals with the size and composition of the Lao PDR population. The results are based on the Lao PDR de jure population census that was taken on March 1, 2005. The enumerated population consisted of Lao citizens as well as citizens of other countries who had been granted permanent residence in Lao PDR. In addition Lao citizens residing abroad, e.g., diplomatic staffs, were also enumerated. The enumeration was organized by household.


1.1: Population size and Growth


In March 2005, Lao PDR had a total population of 5.62 million of which 2.82 million were females and 2.80 million were males. The population then is evenly divided between the sexes.


1.2: Intercensal Populationtion size and Growth during 1995 - 2005


Since the last census taken in March 1995 the population has grown by 1 047 000 persons or by 2.1 percent per year. This is slightly more than the corresponding 991 000 during the previous intercensal period (1985-95). The intercensal period 1995-2005 has witnessed negative net-migration, i.e., more persons have emigrated than immigrated. Persons who had been absent from their usual place of residence for more than six months were not counted in the census.

Intercensal population increase is the difference between two neighboring censuses. In the absence of significant migration in and out of the country, intercensal population increase becomes the same as the natural increase, the difference between births and deaths during the period. Analysis of the population growth rate is given in chapter 9 which deals with population projections. The enumerated population in 2005 is in good agreement with the forecasts made in connection with analysis of the 1995 Lao population census.


1.3: Age and Sex Composition

The age and sex-distributions of the population are shown in table 1.1. The age-distribution mirrors past variability in fertility, mortality and migration. The age and sex-distribution is often illustrated by means of a population pyramid. The age-pyramid of Lao PDR continues to be broadly based; a characteristic of a young population. About 50 percent of the population is currently younger than 20 years. Compared to 1995 census, the proportion aged less than 15 years has declined (from 44 to 39 percent). At the same time the population at working ages, both male and females, has increased by about 4 percent.


Age and-Sex Distributions in the 1995 and 2005 Population Censuses


1.4: Sex Ratio

Definition: The sex ratio is the number of males per 100 females . Hence, a ratio below 100 indicates that there are more females than males. In 2005 the sex ratio was 99.3 as compared to 97.7 in 1995 and 96.1 in 1985. Excess emigration of males over females during the last decade has contributed to a better balanced sex-distribution (table 1.1). The sex-distribution ha become more even for the total population as well as across age groups (see figure 1.1).


1.5: Dependency Ratio

The Dependency Ratio is the ratio of the population aged 0-14 and 65+ to the population aged 15-64 years. The ratio was 0.8 in 2005 compared to 1.1 in 1995. Thus, in 1995 more than 100 persons were dependent on 100 persons at working ages. In 2005 the dependency ratio had dropped to 76 dependents per 100 persons. However there were large differences across provinces. In Vientiane Capital there were 46 dependents for every 100 persons at working ages while in Huaphanh, Xiengkhuang and Sekong there were almost 100 dependents per 100 at working ages. The projections in chapter 9 indicate that the dependency ratio is likely to fall during the coming years.


1.6: Marital Status

The census pointed to 38 percent being married, 57 percent never married, 1 percent divorced/separated and 3 percent widowed. There were small differences aHmong provinces. The marital status changes since the 1995 Census are small both at the national and provincial levels. The age-distribution, sex and marital status are given in tables 1.3.1, 1.3.2 and 1.4. These tables show the differences by sex and age.

Because children up to age 14 rarely are married, it is convenient to study marital status for those aged 15 and over. There are e.g., more divorced and widowed females than males. Larger proportions of women than men were not remarried after they had lost their spouse or separated. The higher percentages of single men than single women in the younger age groups may have several explanations such as men tending to marry at later ages than women. But there may also be some reporting errors aHmong women reflecting reluctance to reveal marital status.

Percentage Distribution of Population Aged 15 and Above by Marital Status, Sex and Urban/Rural Areas

Percentage of Singles (Never Married, Divorced/Separated or Widowed) Aged 15 and Above by Age Group and Urban/Rural Areas



1.7: Citizenship


The distribution of the population by country of citizenship is given in table 1.4. The majority, 99.6 percent, was Lao citizens. Vietnamese were 0.2 percent. Other citizens amounted to less than 0.1 percent of the total population.

Because the Census only enumerated Lao citizens and foreigners with permanent residence permit, it did not enumerate all foreigners staying in the country, even if they had stayed for more than six months. The number of foreigners was actually less than in 1995 (table 1.4), possibly resulting from some of them having received Lao citizenship after that time.


1.8: Religion

The leading religion was Buddhism which presented 67 percent. About 85 000 or 1.5 percent declared themselves as Christians. Muslim and Bahai represented less than 1 percent. Animism was not regarded as a religion and was included in “Other” which accounted for about 30.9 percent of the population (see table 1.5).


1.9: Ethnic Group


In the Census, Lao citizens were asked about their ethnicity. The Census identified 49 different ethnic groups. The distribution of population with respect to ethnicity is given in table 1.6.

Table 1.6 shows that almost 55 percent were Lao, 11 percent Khmou and 8 percent Hmong. In most provinces a few ethnic groups make most of the population – Lao in Vientiane Capital, Vientiane Province, Xayaboury, Khammuane, Savannakhet, Saravane and Champasack, Akha, Khmou and Singsily in Phongsaly, Akha and Khmou in Luangnamtha, Khmou in Oudomxay, Khmou, Lue, Lao, Hmong and Lamed in Bokeo, Khmou, Lao and Hmong in Luangprabang, Tai, Lao and Hmong in Huaphanh, Lao and Hmong in Xiengkhuang, Tai and Lao in Borikhamxay, Katu, Triang and Harak in Sekong, Lao, Oy and Brao in Attapeu and Hmong, Lao and Khmou in Xaysomboon SR.



  1. Population Size and structure
  2. Population Distribution and Migration
  3. Household Characteristics
  4. Education and Literacy
  5. Activity and Labor Force
  6. Fertility
  7. Mortality
  8. Housing Characteristics
  9. Population Projections



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