Jamaica’s ‘Grey Population’ a Ticking Time Bomb: Bruce Golding

By the year 2050, the median age of Jamaicans will be 40 years old.

Right now, Jamaica’s median age is 29.

The projection comes from Former Prime Minister Bruce Golding, who is calling for a national conversation on what he dubs, Jamaica’s greying population.

Mr. Golding was speaking yesterday at a Rotary Club of Kingston luncheon at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston. He says far more people are living longer and far fewer women are giving birth.

The Former Prime Minister is urging the government to pay more attention to pension programmes, medical care and welfare for the elderly.

Mr. Golding says excessive population growth was a major concern during the 1960s, when Jamaica was recording a 2-percent increase per year. But he says that has slowed dramatically to point 1 percent in 2016.

The former Prime Minister says the birthrate has decreased by 37-percent in the last 10 years, despite an increase in the number of women being at childbearing age.

Mr. Golding says the median age of the population also increased from 23 to 29, in the last 10-years. And, he says that’s likely to increase to 40 in the next 30 years.

Mr Golding says life expectancy at birth in Jamaica, is 74 years old; three years above the global average.

Mr. Golding credits the shift in demography to more people choosing to live healthier lifestyles and improved healthcare services. But he says if the trend continues, fewer people will make up the workforce– who’ll be responsible for supporting a far greater elderly population.

And that is why the Former Prime Minister is urging the government to ramp up public awareness around the issue, which he says is a demographic ‘time bomb’.

In the meantime, Mr. Golding says the national conversation on the aging population must include the implication it will have for taxpayers. He says the allocations to the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education, PATH, will also need to be increased.

The Former Prime Minister says more attention must be given to what he says is an increase in the number of people having the memory and reasoning impairing disease, dementia.

Mr. Golding also says a 2013 actuarial report warned the National Insurance Scheme, NIS, will be unable to fulfil its role if it doesn’t improve its rate of contribution.

He says in 1996, the government set aside just over $1-million for its pension programme. But Mr. Gilding says that figure is now a staggering $30-billion in the latest budget.

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