Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
There has been no baby boom in Jamaica over the past 10 years.
In fact, the reality is quite the opposite. Not surprisingly, the decline in births has triggered a marginal increase in Jamaica's population between 2001, when the penultimate census was taken, and 2011.
The figures would suggest that years of urging by the authorities that spawned the maxim 'two is better than too many', among other birth control public-education messages, has sunk into the psyche of young Jamaicans - at least in some quarters of society.
The Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) revealed yesterday in its census findings that fewer than 500,000 babies were added to the Jamaica population over the past decade, falling from an average of 24.2 per 1,000 between 1991 and 2001 to 17.4 per 1,000 between 2001 and 2011.
In its own words, STATIN attributed the low growth rates to "declining numbers of births".
The figures are contained in the 2011 Population and Housing Census, launched yesterday, which revealed that the population is still less than 2.7 million.
In fact, the precise population figure is 2.678 million, an obvious surprise to some, but not to STATIN officials who had been monitoring the data.
Some Jamaicans had expressed belief that it was higher. This represents a mere 3.5 per cent increase in the nearly 10 years since the 2001 census, which indicated a population of 2.607 million. The 2011 population figure represents an annual growth rate of 0.36 per cent since 2001.
STATIN's director of censuses, demographic and social statistic, Dr Valerie Nam, attributed the slow growth rate to a significant downward trajectory of the birth rate.
This was reflected in the census data which indicated that population changes must be interpreted within the context of the three components of population change - births, deaths and migration.
MIGRANTS HARD TO NUMBER
Nam noted that the figures on births and deaths were not hard to come by - not so for those on migration.
Between 2001 and 2011, 438,318 babies were added to the local population which lost nearly 347,967 persons to death or migration.
The figures also reflect a marginal increase in the death rate, from 6.4 per 1,000 in 1991 to 7.1 in 2001.
STATIN found that the difference in the population from natural increase (difference between births and deaths) was 259,065 over the decade.
"The very low growth rate of 0.356 per cent was only the second time since census taking began in Jamaica in the late 19th century that the rates have been so low," the report stated. "The previous period was between 1911 and 1921 and the low rate at that time attributable to the high levels of migration."
Population growth slows due to low rate of births
Change in parish population over 10 years\
Census year Number 1911 370,200 1943 765,300 1960 855,500 1970 676,500 1982 747,788 1991 505,844 2001 603,090 2011 438,318
How we have grown since 1911
Census year Population 1911 831,383 1921 858,118 1943 1,237,063 1960 1,609,814 1970 1,848,512 1982 2,190,357 1991 2,380,666 2001 2,607,632 2011 2,697,983