A presumptive causal link between social and economic unrest on the one hand and its growing negro population on the other, was indicated, for the Bahamas, as early as 1940. As traditional local industries dwindled during the war years, a concerted effort was made towards attracting foreign investment in the form of wealthy land speculators. The success of tourism and the need for tremendous amounts of cheap, reliable labour to support massive construction efforts, had one particularly unexpected result for the Bahamas. Its economic success began to push population levels, as they related to its negro population, to their socio-infrastructural breaking points.
Seemingly, the more economically successful the Bahamas became, the more people became attracted to it from its close Caribbean neighbours. Population levels, primarily its negro population, began to grow at unprecedented levels.
(Alton Evening Telegraph, Tuesday, 23 July 1940)
In 1931, a census recorded the population of the Bahamas to be 59,828. New Providence was the most populous island with 19,756 people.
(The Atlantic Constitution, Wednesday 17 June 1931)
Ten years later, in 1941, Bahamas population levels had climbed to 68,000.
In 1958, the year of the General Strike that began on January 14 with a walkout of taxi drivers, Bahamas’ population had increased to 85,000, with an estimated 90 percent of that number being negro.
January 1, 1968 – Bahamas Population Numbers DOUBLE In Just Ten Years
January 1, 1968 began a new half century of significant change in Bahamian political and population growth history. Published census, charting population growth statistics, offered a startling new reality for the Bahamas.
(The Miami Herald, Sunday, 25 August 1968)
Casual links between the very vocal Bahamian black power movement, which culminated in the first racially partitioned black Majority Rule government on January 10th 1967, and the veritable wind rush of Haitian immigrants to the Bahamas, has never been fully explored. Promises offered of a new black dominated kingdom, just a several hundred miles or so from Haiti, created tremendous pull factors both economically and psychosocially.
The effect of Haitian immigration into the Bahamas changed the social, economic and population dichotomies. Some 6,000 illegal Haitian immigrants were deported back to Haiti in 1967.
By 1968, just ten short years after its previous population census was recorded, the number of documented people, living in the Bahamas, had inexplicably doubled. These numbers did not reflect a then estimated 15,000 undocumented migrants living in the islands.
For Bahamians and international observers alike, a population time bomb had just begun ticking for the islands.
In 1968, there were so many Haitian exiles in the Bahamas that three Haitian Consuls were appointed by Haitian ruler Duvalier to monitor their activities on the major islands of Grand Bahama, New Providence and Abaco.
Tragically, one Haitian consul appointed for Abaco, Antoine Dorce, was murdered on July 8, 1968 while in Freeport, Grand Bahama.
(The Miami Herald, Sunday, 25 August 1968)
BAHAMAS POPULATION DOUBLES THE SAME YEAR THE FIRST MAJORITY RULE GOVERNMENT TAKES POWER
(The Boston Globe, Sunday, 20 October 1968)
1978 – A CALL FOR MORE FAMILY PLANNING AS THE RESOURCES OF THE COUNTRY ARE PUSHED TO BREAKING POINT.
By 1978, some three years after national independence, eleven years after the watershed political year of 1967, and ten years after the last population census, new statistics revealed the Bahamas had found itself facing an unprecedented level of new births.
According to the book, An Economic History of The Bahamas, 2nd edition, authored by Anthony Audley Thompson, LLB., 1978 ushered in seismic 37% birth rate. Quoting Bahamian psychologist Dr. Sandra Dean-Patterson, this 37% birth rate was the highest recorded in the Caribbean.
Dr. Dean-Patterson noted further that lay hidden in this 37% percent birth rate increase for 1978, there were some disturbing statistics. A staggering 33% of all births in the Bahamas, in that year, were to teenage mothers. For 1979, Dr. Dean-Patterson explained that 20% of the teenage mothers giving birth at the primary care facility in Nassau, the Princess Margaret Hospital, “were in their fifth to ninth pregnancy.” Rates for illegitimate births to births recorded within marriages had reached worryingly disproportionate levels. For 1976, 50% of all births in the Bahamas were illegitimate births. For 1979, a staggering 77% of all births recorded in the Bahamas were illegitimate births.
(An Economic History of the Bahamas (2008) 2nd. Ed. Anthony Audley Thompson, B. Com. LLB., Nassau, Bahamas)
Census figures for the year 1980 showed a total population of 223,445, an increase of 54,617 or 32 percent over the 1970 census figure of 168,828.