After years of steady decline, Jamaica’s total fertility rate is now at two children per woman, and the adolescent fertility rate is currently at 46 per 1,000 girls between the ages of 15-19.
This was revealed during the launch of the State of the World Population 2018 report at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel, yesterday. According to Alison Drayton, director and representative for the United Nations Population Fund Subregional Office for the Caribbean, declining fertility levels is an emerging trend in many regions of the world.
“Many countries with middle and low income have seen a steady decline in fertility rates while other countries have had a low fertility rate for a long time, and they struggle with maintaining a large enough labour force to fuel their economies,” she said.
Jamaica’s fertility rate moved from an average of three children per woman in 1994 to 2.4 per woman in 2008, while the adolescent fertility rate has moved from 115 per 1,000 in 1994 and 72 per 1,000 girls in 2008.
Director General of the Planning Institute of Jamaica Dr Wayne Henry believes that the general reduction in the country’s fertility rate is as a result of improvements in the country’s education system and an increase in female empowerment levels, among other things.
“Jamaica’s population is currently at the final stage of the demographic transition, meaning that both the birth and death rates are low and are contributing to the low population growth,” he said.
“However, as a matter of caution, if the fertility rate falls below the level that each woman will not be able to replace herself, or each couple would not be able to replace themselves in the next generation, then the consequence would result in a naturally declining population over time,” he said.
Member of Parliament for St Andrew East Rural Juliet Holness said that the age-old family planning campaign, “two is better than too many”, has resulted in fewer children being born in Jamaican families.