Former Director of Statistics, Edwin St Catherine, says a declining population in Saint Lucia is a cause for concern regarding economic growth, according to a local report.
Hot 7 TV News quoted St Catherine as saying that although Saint Lucia was not able to conduct its 2020 census due to COVID-29, data from previous censuses and the forecast trend indicate the local population is between 160 and 167,000 and falling.
By way of example, he noted that the over 35 segment of the population is now about 58 percent and growing.
At the same time, he told the local television station that the population under 35 is 42 percent and falling.
“The population is ageing and we are seeing that the dependency ratio is increasing as you have more older persons dependent on the more vibrant younger persons,” St Catherine observed.
He told Hot 7 TV that in Saint Lucia, Barbados and lots of Caribbean countries, low fertility rates are being seen.
‘We are seeing very low fertility rates – fertility rates in the order 1.6, below replacement because for the population to stay at its current level you need 2.1 children per woman and currently we are underperforming that significantly about 1.7 – 1.6 so there’s only one direction that is going that is falling,” St Catherine stated.
He expressed the view that consideration could probably be given to incentive programmes.
According to the UN, two-thirds of countries in Europe have introduced measures to increase fertility rates, from baby bonuses and tax incentives to paid parental leave, with varying degrees of success.
The United Nations Population Fund has observed that until the 1980s low fertility rates were found only in the highly developed countries.
However, the UN agency has noted that more recently, low fertility has become a global phenomenon, with a rising number of countries in Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean reporting ‘sub-replacement fertility.’
Headline photo courtesy Aikomo Opeyemi