Tue | Jan 26, 2021

Fertility alarm - Ja’s population predicted to plunge by turn of century

Published:Saturday | January 25, 2020 | 12:09 AMRomario Scott/Gleaner Writer

Jamaica’s population is predicted to nosedive by 50 per cent at the end of the century and present a development challenge for the country.

This was revealed by the Caribbean Development Bank of Jamaica (CDB).

Speaking at the annual Sir Arthur Lewis Day held at The University of the West Indies Regional Headquarters in St Andrew on Wednesdy, CDB Director of Economics Dr Justin Ram said that that rate of population decline would have implications for the country.

Ram presented data showing that Jamaica’s fertility rate was at two per cent between 2010 to 2015.

The CDB, according to Ram, has predicted Jamaica to have an estimated 50 per cent downward change in the population.

“That’s down primary to not having the right level of fertility rates, and as you know, the replacement rate for one person is that you need to have 2.1 babies. So, for many of our borrowing countries, their fertility rates are quite low.

“That’s not necessarily a bad thing because we know why that is happening, because there is a lot more opportunity in the labour market for many more people. But it leads to some implications,” Ram said as he examined the numbers relating to Jamaica and other Caribbean countries.

According to the World Bank, Jamaica’s population stood at 2.67 million in a 2011 state census, but World Bank data of 2017 put the figure marginally higher at 2.89 million.

Grenada was projected to record a 35 per cent decline in population; and Trinidad and Tobago and St Lucia, 28 per cent.

“When we spoke about this recently, we had to ask ourselves, ‘Do we need to have more migrants coming into our countries?’ We have to be open-minded about this,” he suggested.

Ram suggested it as now time for countries within the Caribbean to tap Africa, whose population is expected increase by 40 per cent.

“It will be the only population that will have a young and middle-class population ready for trade,” the CDB director of economics said, as he urged Caribbean leaders to deepen relations with the African continent.

The Caribbean Community in December last year set up a diplomatic office in Nairobi, Kenya.

Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness has sought to woo Kenyan investors, urging them to invest in infrastructure and energy in a bid to strengthen transatlantic relations.

The prime minister cautioned nations against considering Jamaica’s relative small size and market to be an inhibiting factor in developing stronger economic bonds.

Nigerian High Commissioner Janet Omoleegho Olisa, who was at the function, remarked that the Jamaican business community was ageing and slow to realise the need to engage African countries.