The Editor, Sir:
The recent report from The Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) revealed a declension in population growth in the past decade when compared with the preceding period. STATIN attributes this low population growth rate to declining numbers of births. Undoubtedly, over the years, aggressive public-education programmes involving the use of media-friendly slogans, such as 'Two is Better Than Too Many' and 'Pinch, Leave an Inch and Roll', have paid dividends. More recent developments in contraceptives, such as the morning-after pill, will likely continue this trend.
One wonders whether the social scientists of yesteryear gave comprehensive consideration to the multiplicity of factors that would now come to bear on population growth and the implications on national development. As it now stands, there is an increasing ageing population, increasing mortality rate, as well as migration, increasing rates in infertility and the declension of birth rate. The writing is on the wall.
Is it still necessary to focus on sustaining birth control? If not, how can we now as a nation marry a new population growth drive with other ideal partners to ensure that Jamaica becomes the place of choice where people will want to live, work and raise families? Balancing birth control and population growth strategies alongside economic initiatives must now become a necessary and priority agenda.
Experts have posited that Jamaica's ageing population could signal a window of opportunity in terms of economic gains. While not totally disagreeing, I am cautious, especially in view of the decline in birth rates. As it is, we now have a re-socialised psyche as it relates to child bearing, and even child rearing. Women who are career driven are less likely to give premium interest to child bearing. When this window of opportunity for economic gain becomes the focused priority, even a new slogan of 'Two is Better Than None' may not prove as effective as 'Two is Better Than Too Many'.
It is of absolute necessity that balancing birth control, population growth and economic gain be considered concomitantly. Otherwise, the window of opportunity could very well lead to the door of demise.