Jamaica is a far way from being a nation of geriatrics, but its greys are beginning to show, a fact that will open a new set of challenges for which smart policymakers should begin to prepare.
The danger, however, is that faced with the immediacy of today's crises, planning for the problems of a growing number of people with bulging waists and receding hairlines is something that the Government might be minded to shunt down the road.
That would be a mistake. At the very least, a robust discussion of the issues should begin now. Last week's publication of data from this year's census provides a platform from which the discourse can begin.
To be clear, Jamaica is no Japan, or any of those northern European countries with their less than replacement birth rates and, thus, rapidly ageing and declining populations.
Decline in under-15 population
Indeed, more than a fifth of our population is under 15, although, and significantly, that is a decline from the nearly one-third of a decade ago. Additionally, 28 per cent of the population is between 15 and 29, an increase of just shy of two percentage points from the time of the previous census.
Overall, approximately 54 per cent of Jamaica's population is under the age of 30, a huge proportion of which, as this newspaper has in the past noted, is jobless, with little prospects of finding work, and are poorly educated and open to recruitment to crime and other forms of antisocial behaviour.
This segment of the national demographics represents a huge challenge to policymakers if Jamaica is to avoid the dangers of the Middle East-style revolutions that were fuelled by youth alienation.
But this country's still big population of young people, upon whom there is much, and rightful, focus, masks another potentially serious, if not so volatile problem: the greying of Jamaica.
Population growth reduced
It is part of our success of keeping our birth rate down, to an annual average of 17.4 per 1,000 over the past decade, from 24.2 in the period 1991 and 2001. This helped to reduce the population growth rate to 0.36 per cent between the previous census and this one.
An upshot of this is that there are now older people in the population. A decade ago, just over 21 per cent of the population was 45 or over. Today it is 26 per cent. The big movement was in the 45-64 age group - that demographic from early middle age to the cusp of retirement - which jumped five points to 18 per cent.
These figures have implications for the labour market, some of which, as Dr Pauline Knight of the Planning Institute of Jamaica suggests, represent opportunities.
But an older, or ageing, population also has implications for social policy, such as for pensions, health care and the general ordering of society to meet the needs of a larger group of citizens who may not be as robust and have different priorities from the young.
We are not talking about these enough. But worse, we are doing little about them.
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