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An estimated 17,000 Jamaicans passed on last year but...
45,600 new births kept the population beyond the 2.6-m mark
BY BALFORD HENRY Sunday Observer writer
Sunday, March 30, 2008

JAMAICA'S population at the end of 2007 was 2,682,100, according to the Statistical Institute of Jamaica's (STATIN) Demographic Statistics 2007.

The annual publication, which was tabled in the House of Representatives last Thursday, said that this represents an increase, in absolute terms, of about 50,100 persons since 2003 and an average annual growth rate for the period of 0.47 per cent.

The natural increase, the difference between births and deaths, was estimated at 148,900 for the period since 2003. But, the increase was limited to 50,100 due to the net emigration of an estimated 85,900 persons, which is equivalent to 58 per cent of the natural increase.

The largest age group are the very young, those under 15. They numbered approximately 759,000, or 28 per cent of the population. Next was the age group 30-39 which numbered 440,700 or 16.4 per cent, followed by the 40-49 age group with 319,200 or 11.9 per cent.

The publication estimated that there are 1.4 million Jamaicans aged 15 to 49, considered the reproductive years, which is 53 per cent of the population. This was said to have "very important" implications for future population growth "as such growth depends, in large part, on how many children today's youths decide to have in their lifetimes.

STATIN estimated that there were 45,600 births last year resulting in a crude birth rate of 17 per 1000 population. This is a reduction from the previous figure of 20 per 1000 population. There were 46,300 estimated births the previous year, coming down from just over 47,000 between 2003 and 2005.

There were 17,000 estimated deaths last year compared to 16,300 in 2006.

Emigration, which was estimated at 17,800 in 2003, peaked to 20,600 in 2005 but was down to 16,000 last year.

The figures showed that infant mortality has fallen only slightly, from 26.4 per 1000 live births in 2000 to 25.7 per 1000 live births in 2007. However. STATIN said that there are coverage issues affecting this assessment.

The publication said that, while child mortality rates are critical indicators of a country's health status, there are concerns about the accuracy and reliability of the statistics. STATIN believes there is considerable under-registration of infant deaths.

"Mortality among infants is highest in the first hours, days and weeks of life and the likelihood of under-reporting is greatest among these events," STATIN said.

"A recent study (Lindo, 2003), found that less than 50 per cent of neonatal deaths (events occurring in the first month) were registered. What has resulted is that the data produced by the vital registration system (RGD) is being subject to adjustments resulting from the findings of these studies, in order to produce a more consistent and reliable series."

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