PETALING JAYA: Younger people moving in and out of states is why many towns in Malaysia saw big jumps in population over the past 10 years.

Based on available data, Mukim Pulai in Johor is the number one sub-district that saw the largest spike in population of all the places in the country.

From 360,000 residents in 2010, its population swelled by 40.1% to over 500,000 in 2020.

This means an extra 144,763 people are now living in the sub-district in Johor Baru, known to have urban developments and attractions like the Legoland Malaysia theme park.

This is based on the Population and Housing Census of Malaysia 2020 (MyCensus 2020) by the Statistics Department.

The census covered over 1,700 administrative areas nationwide, where over half or 1,153 places (65.3%) showed increases in population.

Malaysian Research Institute on Ageing (MyAgeing) senior research officer Chai Sen Tyng said the growth in population was mainly due to the movement of younger people, who flock to where there are better paying jobs.

“Populations move out of the area when a district or sub-district’s economic activities are slow.

“When this happens, there is little prospect for a higher educated younger population,” he said, adding that youths also move to locations with better connectivity and urban living.

In the MyCensus 2020, areas in Peninsular Malaysia were categorised as sub-districts known as mukim, bandar and pekan.

For Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan, the areas were divided into district and sub-district levels, which will be covered later in this report.

Source: Department of Statistics Malaysia, The Star

Check out this interactive map for more information:

Photo Credit: Google Street View, The Star


Bustling towns and cities

It’s not surprising that Mukim Pulai has become increasingly populated compared with other areas, says MyAgeing’s Chai.

With new roads and more property developments, the sub-district has attracted younger people to move there.

“This is a suburban area that includes Gelang Patah, Iskandar Puteri and stretches all the way to Taman Perling on the northeast side and Skudai in the north.

“It also straddles between the two entry points into Singapore, which are Johor Baru and Tuas,” he said of Pulai’s strategic location.

The sub-district also now hosts most of the government administrative centres for Johor at Kota Iskandar, Chai added.

Some sub-districts also grew because of new housing development projects, as they are more affordable for young families.

“However, a mukim can also grow rapidly because of its conducive environment for business, commerce and modern living.

“People don’t move near factories or high-rise buildings, but they do gravitate to housing areas with excellent connectivity.

“In the past, that meant roads and cars but in the next decade, it will be the MRTs and LRTs,” Chai said.

Growth in Sabah and Sarawak

In Sabah, the district with the biggest population growth was Kota Kinabalu, which grew by 48,367 people.

As of 2020, a total of 500,425 people live there – a 10.7% increase from 452,058 in 2010.

Here’s how much other districts in Sabah have expanded:

Source: Department of Statistics Malaysia, The Star


Photo Credit: Google Street View, The Star


For Sarawak, the state capital of Kuching grew the most among the total 40 districts, charting a jump in population from 566,318 to 609,205.

At the state’s sub-district level, Padawan in Kuching took the lead in population growth.

The following shows how much the population grew in Sarawak’s top districts and sub-districts:

Source: Department of Statistics Malaysia, The Star
Source: Department of Statistics Malaysia, The Star
Photo Credit: Google Street View, The Star
Changing with the times

With an area experiencing a growth in population, it’s only natural that the town’s needs must also change.

“The first issue that should be addressed is the higher demand for public spaces and services,” Chai said.

Examples of such services are public sanitation, garbage collection, water supply, telecommunications, transportation, parks, restaurants, shopping malls and childcare facilities.

“Bottlenecks happen when new populations move in and the traffic dispersion is poorly planned,” he said.

The average size of families in Malaysia is 3.8 people per household, but there are some sub-districts that have recorded higher than the national figure.

The mukim with the largest average household size is in Bandar Tangkak in Johor, where one house has an average of about six people.

Source: Department of Statistics Malaysia, The Star

Shrinking populations

On the flip side, there are also sub-districts that have seen their population decreasing in the past 10 years.

In Peninsular Malaysia, the mukim which saw the biggest drop in population is Mukim Keratong in Pahang.

The sub-district in Rompin saw its population shrink from 55,042 people in 2010 to 42,951 in 2020 – a 22% decrease.

This is followed by Bandar Kuantan in Pahang and Mukim Asam Kumbang in Perak.

Source: Department of Statistics Malaysia, The Star


As for Sabah, the Keningau district had the biggest population decline, with the number of residents going down by 12.8%.

From 173,103 people, its population dropped to 150,927 – a decrease of 22,176 residents.

Here are other districts that faced a similar situation:

Source: Department of Statistics Malaysia, The Star


In Sarawak, Sarikei saw its population downsize the most from 56,228 people in 2010 to 44,039 in 2020.

Among the sub-districts in the state, Debak in the Betong district experienced the largest drop in population from 10,276 to 7,907.

The following are the top five areas which population size shrank the most at the district and sub-district level:

Source: Department of Statistics Malaysia, The Star


Source: Department of Statistics Malaysia, The Star


What happens when populations shrink

In the long term, places that see a decline in residents will age more rapidly as those who leave are usually the younger population, Chai said.

“This will directly impact the kind of public services needed in an area.

“You will need more nursing homes than kindergartens, and more geriatricians than paediatricians.”

On the future of Malaysia’s population, Chai said it is always difficult to make projections beyond 10 to 20 years.

“One way to address our population’s imbalance is to spread economic development to different areas.

“But a sober reality is that our national population itself might start declining in about 30 or 40 years,” he said, citing reasons like the declining birth rate.

Demographers, he said, have projected that Malaysia’s population might never reach 50 million before it starts to depopulate.

“But the challenge for us now is to stabilise the birthrate and hope to maintain a stable level of growth,” Chai added.

You have already added 0 property


Forgot Password?