Jamaica recorded a 17.1 per cent decline in its birth rate between 2011 and 2021, according to the Statistical Institute of Jamaica.
The situation has resulted in a rapidly ageing population.
During the decade, live births fell from 39,700 in 2011 to 32,900 last year.
According to the 2021 edition of the Economic and Social Survey Jamaica (ESSJ), “The data indicated a steady decline in the Crude Birth Rate (CBR) over the decade falling from 14.7 to 12.0 per 1 000 population”.
The latest edition of the ESSJ, a publication of the Planning Institute of Jamaica, was released last week.
It highlighted that the proportion of women in the reproductive age group (15–49 years) remained virtually unchanged at 54.9 per cent (760 800) of the total female population.
“This has resulted in a General Fertility Rate (GFR) of 42.3 births per 1 000 women 15–49 years, a decrease of 3.7 percentage points compared with 2020,” it said.
The survey added that the long-term decline in the fertility rate is also reflected in the total fertility rate, which for 2018 was measured at 2.4 children per woman, declining from 2.8 in 1997.
“Of special note is that the age specific fertility rate for the 15–19 age group declined to 72 births per 1 000 women 15–19 years in 2008, from 79 births in 2002 and 112 births in 1997,” it said, quoting from the Reproductive Health Survey, 2008 of the National Family Planning Board.
Despite the falloff, the survey said births in this population sub-group is considered high when compared with countries in the Latin America and Caribbean region.
Meanwhile, the survey highlighted that interactions of fertility, mortality and migration have an impact on the size, structure, composition and distribution of the population. It explained that increments in births and immigration are offset by decrements of deaths and emigration.
Data received from the Registrar General’s Department reflected births at 32,900 and deaths at 24 000 for 2021, resulting in a natural increase (births minus deaths) of 8,900. However, emigration of 18,000 contributed to a net population loss of 9,100.
The survey noted that child population has been steadily declining since the 1980s due to the continuing implementation of policy and programme initiatives aimed at reducing fertility rates. By way of projections, the medium variant for Jamaica indicates that the child population will continue to decline up to 2050, stabilising at about 20 per cent of the total population.