During the 1990s, the time of the Special Period, migration to Old Havana was increasing. Moreover, the composition of the migrants differed from the past in terms of place of origin, age, and sex.
For example, from 1989-1991, there were 85.7 male migrants for every 100 females.
In 1992, the number of male migrants had dropped to only 65.8 per every 100 females.
And, while the majority of migrants (55%) were between 15 and 30 years old, the proportion of older migrants was growing, with those over 60 years old increasing from 5.9% of the total in 1989-1991 to 9.1 % of all migrants in 1992.
Clearly, the feminization and aging of Havana was escalating.
The demographic make-up of Old Havana in the mid 1990s reflects these trends. According to the report I cited in Old Havana: Rural-Urban Migration and the Tourist Sector, of the area’s total population:
48% are male and 52% female; 62% of the population is aged between 15 and 64 and the low-birth rate manifests a tendency towards population ageing. Over one half is white, almost one third mulatto and almost one fifth black, while slightly over one hundred people are of Asian origin. In three out of five nuclear families, the head of the family is female. Of the families surveyed, over one half have no children and over one third have only one child. Nonetheless, 37% of nuclear families contain old people, the presence of one or two people of this age being predominant.
The above trends were most probably understated because many newcomers avoid registering their move with the appropriate authorities.
Studies assessing the reason why migrants move to the capital are clearly imprecise.
Surprisingly, for every one migrant who says that he/she is looking for work, 29.9 say that they are not.
It is probably that many of those seeking employment do not legally change their residence, and that most migrants will find opportunity only in the informal labor market.
Photograph by Lisa Reynolds Wolfe.
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