Death rates up

Barbados’ population is officially in decline as the number of people dying each year surpasses those being born.

That is one of the main findings of the 2021 Population And Housing Census conducted by the Barbados Statistical Service (BSS).

The census report also concluded that “the population of Barbados is aged and is not refreshing itself at a rate fast enough to replenish itself”.

It warned that “if this scenario continues our population will continue to decline”.

“The number of deaths [has] overtaken the number of births in the population from the year 2016 and afterwards,” stated the 94-page publication.

“This is as a direct consequence of a sustained decline in the births in the island in conjunction with a new phenomenon where the deaths began a steady increase in 2014, with a crossover of births and deaths occurring in 2016,” the BSS explained.

The census report shows that annual deaths and births in Barbados were each above 2 000 in 2016. By the end of 2022, deaths were well past 3 000, while births were closer to 2 000.

With Census Day August 1, 2021, the BSS information outlined that the population declined by 8 731 between the 2021 census and the 2010 one.

Barbados’ population at the time of the 2021 census was 269 090 (130 037 males and 139 053 females), compared with the 2010 census population of 277 821 (133 018 males and 144 803 females).

For the 2000 census, the population was 268 792 (129 241 males and 139 551 females) and it was 260 491 (124 571 males and 135 920 females) when the 1990 census population took place.

The Statistical Service said a number of methods were used to determine the average of the population and in each instance the conclusion was that the population was ageing.

When the 1990 census was conducted, the largest proportion of people in the 18 five-year age groups, also known as the population pyramid, were those aged 25 to 29, which the BSS called “the modal group”.

“Ten years later, this group moved to the 35-39 age group, with the principle remaining of them being the largest age-group cohort. With the years 2010 and 2021 the progression remains and is consistent,” the census report stated.

There were 22 821 of these individuals [age group] in 2000, 21 365 in 2010 and 19 655 in 2021.

The census report said further to the use of a population pyramid, another index of a population’s age sex structure was the median age, which it noted “is often used as a tool to determine whether a population is old, young or in the intermediate stage”.

“Populations with a median age of less than 20 years are considered young; those with median ages of between 20 and 30 are considered intermediate; and those with a median age of greater than 30 are considered old,” the report said.

“When the median age of a country rises it is said to be ageing and when it falls it is considered to be ‘younging’. The median age from the 2021 Population and Housing Census results indicate that the median age is now 42.5 compared to 37.3 last census,” it added.

The BSS explained that “the primary purpose of a Population and Housing Census is to count the entire population and housing stock of a country”.

Based on the census, most people, 77 394, are resident in St Michael and the least, 5 677, live in St Andrew.

The remainder of the parish populations listed in order of size were Christ Church (51 184), St Philip (32 130), St James (24 819), St George (21 939), St Thomas (14 130), St Peter (13 565), St Lucy (11 136), St John (10 417) and St Joseph (6 697).

It said that in addition to the count of the population and the housing stock, data was collected on population characteristics, for example, its size, age, sex, social and economic composition.

The census also “facilitates the production of population projections and the documentation of trends in fertility, mortality, migration, life expectancy and related population dynamics”.

The census count included residents present in Barbados on Census Day and individuals “usually resident in Barbados, who were abroad and were expected to return to Barbados within six months of their departure”.

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