Survey shows decline in child population

BY BALFORD HENRY
Senior staff reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

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THE Jamaica Survey of Living Conditions 2017 has reported that the issue of Jamaica's ageing population has been borne out by the data collected on the country's demographic characteristics.

The data showed a continued long-term decline in the share of the child population (0-14 years) and an increase in the working age (15-64 years) and dependent elderly (65 years and older) populations.

In 2017, the three age groups accounted for 25.7 per cent, 64.7 per cent and 9.6 per cent of the population, respectively.

The survey showed that while there was not much variation by region, the child and dependent elderly populations in rural areas accounted for larger shares, at 26.9 per cent and 11.2 per cent, respectively, while the working age population represented a smaller share of 61.9 per cent.

The population change has led to declines in the Age Dependency Ratios (ADRs), which were recorded at 39.8 child dependents, and 14.9 dependent elderly per 100 individuals of working age and a total ADR of 54.6 dependents for every 100 individuals of working age in the population.

The ADR refers to the ratio of economically dependent section (pensionable) of the population to the economically active section (working age) section.

While the Kingston Metropolitan Area (KMA) and other towns recorded total ADRs that were slightly lower at 49.3 dependents per 100 working age individuals each, the differences in population in rural areas translated into a higher ADR of 61.6.

The decline in the proportion of the population at 0-14 years, due to the long-term fall in the fertility rate, is also the main reason for the reduction in average household size to 2.9, as the averages for adult household members showed less variation over time. Households recorded an average 1.1 adult males, 1.1 adult females and 0.8 children, respectively. Households headed by males recorded 0.6 children on average, while female-headed households recorded an average 1.0 children.

As the average household size has declined, small households with fewer than four members have accounted for the larger share of households by size. However, single member households continue to increase and 29.1 per cent of all households in 2017 had a single member.

About a fifth of all households were comprised of a single male occupant, compared with 7.9 per cent with a sole female occupant. However, looking at all households headed by males, 38.6 per cent had a single member, while 17.5 per cent of all households headed by females consisted of a single member.

For households headed by females, the largest proportion (40.5 per cent) had children and no adult male resident. Corresponding data for male-headed households showed 5.6 per cent with children and no adult female present.


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