Photo credit: Dave Reid
According to Director-General of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Dr. Wayne Henry, persons falling within Jamaica’s working-age range of 15 to 64 years now stand at 69.7 percent of the overall population of 2.9 million.
He noted that this historical figure creates a window of opportunity for the country, often referred to as a demographic dividend.
“The demographic dividend is the economic growth potential that can result from shifts in a population’s age structure, mainly when the share of the working-age population is disproportionately larger than the dependent population… that is, persons 14 years and younger as well as those 65 years and older,” stated Dr. Henry.
He said that an increase in the working-age population, relative to dependents, provides Jamaica with a “tremendous opportunity” to boost economic growth.
Dr. Henry said leveraging the benefits associated with the demographic dividend will require several key undertakings.
These are reducing unemployment and informality to foster increased productivity, greater financial inclusion, and participation of under-represented groups; embracing the concept of active aging as life expectancy continues to increase; refocusing social protection and social service delivery to cater to emerging requirements of the elderly population; greater focus on financial literacy, especially among the youth; encouraging social enterprise and facilitating livelihood projects and programs to improve well-being and community development; and greater focus on balanced development within and between rural and urban areas in order to create an optimal distribution of the population.
“These benefits are, however, not automatic, [and] will require specific and deliberate policy and programmatic interventions… to be harnessed,” Dr. Henry posited.
Pollyanna Davy, Readers Bureau, Fellow
Edited by Jesus Chan
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