Jamaica ageing

Survey says smaller households with fewer children increasing

The latest Jamaica Survey of Living Conditions 2015 says that one of the most prominent features of Jamaica's population is the changing age structure.

According to the joint Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ)/Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) publication tabled in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, the change is being manifested in smaller households, usually with fewer children.

The demographic characteristics in the report on the living standards of Jamaicans highlighted the fact that “over the past two to three decades, Jamaica's population has seen shifts in its age structure resulting from declines in fertility and mortality”.

The report indicated that the Jamaican population has a declining share of children (0-14 years old), compared to an increasing working-age population (15-64 years) and dependent elderly people (65 years and over); these changes are characteristic of population ageing.

It continued: “Between 2006 and 2015 the proportion of the child population declined by 4.3 percentage points to 26.7 per cent.” Rural areas of the island reflected the largest percentage point decline in the child population (32.6 per cent in 2006 to 26.3 in 2015).

There was, in tandem, an increase in the working-age population.

A reduced fertility rate also means that there will be implications for consumption, social protection, housing, education and health.

According to the report, another manifestation of this population structure change is the declining size of households, combined with a change in the structure, whereby the sizes have generally become smaller and made up of fewer children than in the past.

The publication went further to indicate that a population feature contributing to the falling mean household size has been the prevalence of people living alone, with single-person households being the most common type of household by size.

It also noted that the single-person households were mainly dependent elderly people.

A large share of the dependent elderly living alone were women. However, the report pointed out that this was consistent with global trends, as women generally have longer life expectancy than men.

Female-headed households, meanwhile, continued to record a larger mean household size, compared with male-headed households. They also comprise larger numbers of adult females and children, relative to male-headed households.

Female-headed households were also largely represented in the poorest quintile, which has been the case over time.

The report concluded that Jamaica's population has transitioned from a youthful structure to an ageing one, with a decline in child dependency and an increase in elderly dependency.

“The impact of changing fertility, mortality and migration patterns has contributed to a change in the structure of households, and the reductions in average household size and both the national and regional levels,” the Survey of Living Conditions said.

Source: Jamaica observer
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