Friday, April 19, 2024

Better-off Bajans need to get kids

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AN OPTIMUM POPULATION is attained when its total reaches a level at which the country’s resources cannot sustain all the members of society and provide them with a decent living.

This figure was reached in the 18th century when . . . Barbados was the crown jewel of the British Empire. Barbados has the ninth highest density of population globally, but this has nothing to do with economic growth.

The population of Barbados is ageing and not reproducing. This can be attributed to several factors: a better health care system, a safety net in the social security system, the population being more educated, the availability of more food and more professionals choosing to have fewer children or none at all.

There is need for concern that the population is not growing, because the replacement rate is lower, life expectancy is higher and we need young people to carry on in terms of jobs, economic growth and the development of the country.

The most fecund segment of the population seems to be those from the lower socio-economic segment. There is a clarion call for the higher socio-economic group to come up to the table. But, we can argue that families with fewer children have a better chance of success in rearing them.

Expatriates who migrate to Barbados are aware of the need to reproduce. In time their progeny will carry on their traditions, although they will be acculturated in Bajan life. Their offspring will not be poor. They will still have homes and jobs. Is this the case for young Bajans in the current local and global environment?

Take, for example, the East Indians, with their religious traditions, which they hand down from generation to generation. Their culture is still intact. The extended family still assists in raising the young. As a result, they are a more cohesive racial group.

Among black Barbadians the village is no longer helping to raise the child since the tradition of extended family looking after future generations is on the decline. We have moved in line with individualistic Western culture, opting to look after individual needs.

The low birth rates need to be looked into seriously. We need to prop up the replacement ratio. Japan has the highest percentage of ageing citizens, but they are a developed or technologically advanced First World country and world leader in the use and development of robotics.

We need Barbadians who possess the wherewithal to step up to the plate to maintain their share of the population and seize future opportunities in this ever advancing civilisation.

– PHILIP O. HUNTE

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