The local newspapers are reporting some new government statements regarding the demographics of our state of Querétaro (QRO). I don’t know if you’ll find this interesting, but living and ministering here, we find it helpful to know current statistics. People often ask us what the population of San Juan del Río (SJR) is and so we try to keep tabs on such figures if we can learn them.

Interestingly, we continue to find the government statistics confusing from the standpoint that what has been declared officially in the past doesn’t seem to mesh well with what is being said in the present.

For example, the current statistics through June 2014 declare that the entire state of Querétaro has a population of 1,974,000. Seems simple enough.

However, sources never seem to agree on these figures. The official announcement published today in the newspapers state that QRO is growing at an annual rate of 2.6%. However, Wikipedia quotes a source that puts the mid-year 2012 population at exactly 1,924,144. At a rate of 2.6%, this would put today’s expected figure at 2,025,500. Not that 100,000 people represents much of a statistical range of error, about 5% right? We just lopped off South Bend, Indiana in the span of 2 years. Sorry Notre Dame fans…no more touchdowns for you.

Wikipedia also has some curious facts about the population of San Juan del Río. SJR is both the name of our city and also of a larger area called a municipality (perhaps akin to a county in the USA, but probably slightly smaller than most counties). For 2007 they quote the population statistics as 128,270 for the city and 217,980 for the municipality.

That’s interesting because when we entered the city of SJR in 2004, we noticed a sign at the city limits (not the municipal limits) that stated the population of SJR was 179,000 (actually had a few digits in the hundreds, tens, and ones place but I don’t remember exactly what it said, other than it was 179,xxx). Well, now, that’s interesting. Because I’m pretty sure that from 2004 to 2007 SJR was growing in number as it has been consistently for a couple of decades and has even seen an increase in growth rate which has been near 4% annually. How does one account for a 51,000 person decline during a time of growth? Makes no sense, unless the original count was incorrect.

There is the possibility that the 179,xxx figure represents the municipal population and that would help explain the apparent contradiction. However, it should be noted that when we visited here in 2002, we saw that same 179,xxx sign. In fact, our co-workers who moved to SJR in 1995 stated that this was the same sign they noted when they arrived in SJR way back then nearly 20 years ago! There is no way to rectify a 20 year change in population at city or municipal levels at the rates of growth that both have experienced during that time. The numbers are clearly fuzzy.

So, what was the population and what is the population of SJR and of the state of QRO?

It seems apparent that nobody really knows. We can see that the city is booming with a robust growth in population as is true of the state. According to the just published reports, QRO is the 3rd fastest growing state in Mexico behind the touristy, tropical states Quintana Roo and Baja California Sur (the Lower Baja of California). Collectively as a state, QRO’s annual growth rate is said to be 2.6%. Those other two states are said to have growth rates of 4.1% and 4% respectively.

Again, the disparity between sources creates a presentation of illogical figures. Wikipedia states that the cities of Querétaro and San Juan del Río have individual growth rates of 4% annually. These are by far the two largest cities in the state and combined account for over 60% of the state’s population. Given the entire state is growing rapidly, how does the rest of the state drag the collective 4% growth rate down to 2.6%? Many of the larger towns in the state are probably growing at nearly the same 4% rate. We see houses going up all over the countryside in every town we drive through and around.

I suppose it isn’t anything to lose sleep over. As one whose first bachelors degree was accounting, these kinds of discrepancies are bothersome because I was trained not to rest until the debits and the credits balanced out. These statistical tensions have a tendency to cause me to break pencil leads.

Fortunately, I type everything now and don’t use pencils much. If you visited here, you’d probably note we have dozens and dozens of pencils throughout our house. Most of them cowering in old coffee mugs…their points broken off as if victims of a ritual sacrifice. It’s called “computational conniptions.” It is a native ritual of sorts apparently led by an unleaded leader…so to speak.

In fact, I suspect that if we were to count all the pencils in this house with leads intact and with broken leads, we’d find that 78.4% of them….