Our population is collapsing. What are we doing about it?

The data are in. Curaçao’s population took another dive. In 2019 it decreased by 2,632, in 2020 by 2,460, and last year by 2,227. We’ve seen our population shrink from 160,000+ to 153,671. Yearly the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) compiles population data which some local newspapers copy-paste. There’s no public conversation or parliamentary discussions on this matter. Apparently, everything is hunky-dory. I can’t be the only one who thinks we have a population crisis on our hands?*

Population decline affects public finance, and our ability to have sustainable economic growth, and is set to create a massive social change. Fewer cries from babies. More abandoned homes. More people possibly have to retire in their 70s.

Does a smaller population mean “more to go around” or that fewer people will be less of a burden on the environment? No, because almost always it’s human behavior and unjust distribution of resources that strain the environment.

As the population gets smaller and older, consumption and spending drop making economies of scale impossible whilst negatively affecting competitiveness and innovation. Larger shares of GDP will be spent on public pensions and health care placing pressure on public finances. A diminishing population also increases the likelihood of inbreeding (already present here) which can result in (more) undesirable social situations and more spending on health care.

According to CBS, our depopulation is due to decreasing live births per woman and more people emigrating than immigrating. It seems we are stuck in a vicious circle of people leaving because the economy is not growing which in turn makes it more difficult for the economy to pick up due to fewer (younger) people staying behind. Brain drain, and the fact that women outnumber men by nearly 10% making it difficult for women to find a life partner are some of the problems not addressed in the yearly statistics.

Our demographic problems are worse than expected. Demographers and economists must come together to present policy proposals. There’re no easy solutions, but everyone, especially our decision-makers need to wake up from their slumber.

Anchorage, Alaska



Author: alexdavidrosaria

Alex Rosaria is from Curaçao. He has a MBA from University of Iowa. He was Member of Parliament, Minister of Economic Affairs, State Secretary of Finance and United Nations Development Programme Officer in Africa and Central America. He is an independent consultant active in Asia and the Pacific.

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