Friday, 3 April 2015

Venezuela, gender, work and politics (I)

Gender distribution in 4 parishes of central Venezuela: males are shown with dash, females with continuous lines
Look at these statistics based on Venezuela's 2011 census. They show how many males and females live in four areas in Central Venezuela. All are urban, even if some were formerly villages that became part of Greater Valencia. The areas -parroquias or civil parishes- are:

  • San José - Northern Valencia, mostly middle class and the tiny upper middle class (SJ)
  • Tocuyito - just Southwest of Valencia, the place is by far the most dangerous area in the whole state
  • Los Guayos - formerly a humble village, now the most densely populated municipality of Carabobo, as poor as Tocuyito
  • Urdaneta - South-Eastern Valencia, rather poor and one of the areas where the opposition tried to protest in March of last year but where several people got killed. As I wrote in a post back then, continuous protests in areas like this - there were many others- showed it was not an "uprise of the upper middle class": the poor were also mad, but protesting in areas where the opposition has "only" 60% of support instead of 80% or more can be rather lethal.
We can see the obvious: the poorer the region, the more children there are. Still, there is something curious here: although all these regions are urban, Tocuyito is the only area where there are just as many men as women from age 18 onwards. We know in many countries there is a particular gender inbalance depending on whether the region is poorer or richer. From Africa there is currently a mostly male migration now. The same goes for Arab states. In Eastern Germany, it has been women who first leave the rural and backward areas to look for better horizons. The same goes for rural China. In rural Venezuela we can also see a clear, sometimes dramatic surplus of men.

But what is going on here? Is Tocuyito just a transition region that was not so long ago a rural area? I doubt that is the case. Tocuyito also has a prison. It was conceived for 1200 inmates, but it has now well over 3000 and the vast majority are males. Is that all or are there some other factors that explain why there are clearly proportionately more women in the other areas? Do men in Libertador live healthier lives or else?

The following chart shows the percentage of people between 18 and 24 years old who are following courses at a college or university in the areas mentioned above. What are the young males in Libertador who are not studying doing? Are they working? How many? In what jobs?

We'll examine a wider area in future posts to discuss possible reasons for these demographic patterns.

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