Economies with ageing populations around the world have been presented with numerous challenges, including increased healthcare and long-term care spending, labour-force shortages, declining economic activity and old age income security.
Bermuda is no different. We have a rapidly ageing population, which will present a common set of challenges to those experienced worldwide. Current statistics show that demographics are working against Bermuda in terms of our total population and demographic profile.
The analysis of data from Bermuda’s Population Projections 2016 – 2026 highlights the reality of:
• Bermuda’s couples have insufficient children to replace themselves due to a decreasing number of births and an increasing number of deaths.
• Bermuda’s median age is increasing from 44.6 to 48.6 years of age and showing no slowing of this trend in the foreseeable future. Additionally, as life expectancy increases, in 2026, seniors 65 years and over will represent nearly one-quarter of Bermuda’s population. At the same time, the age groups from 25 to 64 years, which is also the main working group, are expected to decline.
• More people ageing and retiring over the coming years, coupled with increasing life expectancy and declining birth rates, will make it difficult for employers to secure enough qualified Bermudians to fill vacant positions and likely impact the structure of our society and economy.
Bermuda’s ageing population will have significant implications on the island’s economic growth and health care, among others. Based on the population’s demographic trends, our current working population will be unable to support the local economy in the years to come. As a result of the strong correlation between economic growth and the demographic structure of the labour force, the anticipated decline in Bermuda’s labour force due to an ageing population will directly impact Bermuda’s ability to maintain sustainable economic growth over the coming years.
Old Age Dependency
The old-age dependency ratio is the ratio of the population 65 years and over to the population of 20 to 64 years. The old-age dependency ratio can gauge society’s capacity to maintain the quality of life of seniors.
With the continuation of Bermuda’s ageing population trend, it is predicted that Bermuda’s old-age dependency ratio will be higher in 2026 than the projected OECD average. In 2017, the old‐age dependency ratio was 28.0; by 2026, it is projected to soar to 43.6. This means that in 2026 there are expected to be 44 seniors for every 100 people of working age (20‐64 years). This measures the working-age population’s ability to support persons 65 years and over.
The increase in the old age dependency ratio signifies that there will be increased pressure placed on the working population to support our senior population. To move Bermuda’s ratio closer to the OECD average and maintain an appropriate level of economic growth, the Government will need to reduce the old age dependency ratio by increasing the working population, among other measures.
The Ministry of Economy and Labour has created a position paper entitled Addressing the Challenge of an Ageing Population in Bermuda. The purpose of this Paper is to state the Government’s position on the demographic challenge of an ageing population, as measured by the old age dependency ratio, and to articulate the approach it will take to reduce that ratio primarily by increasing the working population in Bermuda. The impact of executing this approach will be sustainable economic growth and the creation of new jobs. The Paper is available for review from the Resources section in the Ministry of Economy and Labour on gov.bm.
In support of advancing meaningful social commentary on this topic, the Ministry will also be holding a round table discussion on Bermuda’s Ageing Population. Details will be provided in the coming weeks, but the event will be broadcast live on the Government’s Facebook page, YouTube channel and CITV.
When the time comes, I encourage the people of Bermuda to tune in and listen to this discussion that is vital to the future of our country.
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