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People of working age now 69.7% of population – PIOJ

Friday, November 22, 2019

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KINGSTON, Jamaica— Director General of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) Dr Wayne Henry says people falling within the country's working-age range of 15 to 64 years now stand at 69.7 per cent of the overall population of 2.9 million.

Henry says this represents the largest figure ever attained in Jamaica's history and creates a window of opportunity for the country, often referred to as a demographic dividend.

“The demographic dividend is the economic growth potential that can result from shifts in a population's age structure, mainly when the share of the working-age population is disproportionately larger than the dependent population… that is, persons 14 years and younger as well as those 65 years and older,” the Director General outlined.

He was speaking at the PIOJ's quarterly briefing at the Institute's head office in New Kingston, on Tuesday (November 19).

Dr Henry noted that an increase in the working-age population, relative to dependents, provides Jamaica with a “tremendous opportunity” to boost economic growth.

This, he said, through increased labour force participation and employment, particularly for groups deemed typically under-represented, such as youth, women and persons with disabilities; increased allocation of resources towards savings rather than consumption, as the dependency ratio falls, thereby facilitating investments and growth; and human capital development through the provision of more resources towards strengthening education and health outcomes, “which will contribute to the increased productivity of the labour force”.

Dr Henry said leveraging the benefits associated with the demographic dividend will require several key undertakings.

These are reducing unemployment and informality to foster increased productivity, greater financial inclusion and participation of under-represented groups; embracing the concept of active ageing as life expectancy continues to increase; refocusing social protection and social service delivery to cater to emerging requirements of the elderly population; greater focus on financial literacy, especially among the youth; encouraging social enterprise and facilitating livelihood projects and programmes to improve well-being and community development; and greater focus on balanced development within and between rural and urban areas in order to create an optimal distribution of the population.

“These benefits are, however, not automatic, [and] will require specific and deliberate policy and programmatic interventions… to be harnessed,” Dr Henry pointed out.

– JIS


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