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Ja's population to stay under 3 million, says PIOJ official

Wednesday, February 19, 2014    

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THE Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) says that Jamaica's population is not likely to exceed three million, based on declining fertility rates, high external migration, and declining mortality.

"There has been discussion about Jamaica's population growing out of control and that is not the case," said Toni-Shae Freckleton, manager of PIOJ's Population and Health Unit.

"Data from the Population and Housing Census and projections coming out of the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (Statin) indicate this on all levels" she stated.

Freckleton was speaking at a recent JIS Think Tank in observance of Safer Sex Week, which was observed from February 10-14.

She noted that Jamaica's population is ageing, with a decline in fertility rates causing the 0-14 segment of the population to fall below 30 per cent. "The last Housing and Population Census indicates that this particular age group is shrinking," she stated.

Concomitant with this is an increase in the working age population (15-64) and an increase in the over 60 age group, which is the fastest growing segment of the population and that this is a direct result of improvements in life expectancy and health care. Freckleton said that total fertility rates have declined from an average high of six children per woman in the 1960's to 2.4 children per woman in the last Reproductive Health Survey of 2008.

"When this is superimposed on replacement level fertility, which is an average of 2.1 children per woman, we have seen, over time, the vast improvements that Jamaica has made in the area of fertility and we are fast approaching replacement level fertility. Once we get to that point, this is where we are seeing the possibility of a declining population if it goes unchecked," she stated.

Freckleton indicated that the country has reaped the benefits of the Two is Better Than Too Many campaign launched in the 1980's, noting that the drive has impacted current declining fertility rates.

Chairman of the National Family Planning Board, Dr Sandra Knight, explained that "with that campaign, we had encouraged and advocated for one woman to have two children based on the population analysis data that we had coming in and the probability of the population being too great for the resources that were present at the time."

In the Population Sector Plan of Vision 2030, the goal is to achieve replacement level fertility (2.1 children per woman) by 2010 and maintained thereafter.

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