Population stats: Low birth rate set to trigger demographic crisis

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Population stats: Low birth rate set to trigger demographic crisis

Mauritius is on the verge of facing a demographic crisis, according to latest figures published by Statistics Mauritius. The low birth rate, coupled with an ageing population will lead to a higher dependency ratio which will then place greater strain on public finances. News on Sunday reports.

The Mauritian population is growing at 0.1% according to data compilations of Statistics Mauritius. “The population of the Republic of Mauritius increased by 958 from 31st December 2015 to 31st December 2016. The growth rate works out to 0.1 % for the Republic of Mauritius,” said the report. The estimated resident population was 1,263,820 as at 31 December 2016. The female population was 638,462 compared to a male population of 625,358. There were 97.9 males for every 100 females.

Population growth has two components: natural increase (the number of births minus the number of deaths) and net international migration (net international movement of residents). During the year 2016, the natural increase was 2,908, with births adding 13,082 babies and deaths removing 10,174 persons from the population. For the same period, net international migration of residents was estimated at -1,950 persons. (see table 1)

With the changes in the birthrate over the years, following the introduction of different family planning programmes, the distribution of different age groups has been altered. For a country to renew its population, the birth rate should stand at 2.1% whereas it is much lower in Mauritius, coupled with this, people are living longer thanks to improved living conditions and healthcare provision which has led to major changes to proportion of different age groups which make up the country's population.

The structure of the population pyramids is determined by the patterns of births, deaths and migration which took place prior to the reference period of the pyramid. The pyramids compare the age structure of the population between 1972, 2000 and 2016 and show some important trends in the demographics of Mauritius.

The population growth rate peaked in the late seventies followed by a fall in the eighties. The population growth rate caught up in the mid nineties after which it dropped again to attain the lowest rate in 2016. The dips observed since the eighties mainly indicate falling fertility. (see chart on population growth rate over time)

The main changes observed over time are:

  • the shrinking of the base of the pyramid over time due to falling fertility;
  • the thickening of the upper body of the pyramid indicating an increase in expectation of life;
  • the relatively longer bars on the female side of the pyramid around its apex indicating the predominance of females among the elderly.

The first pyramid in 1972, with its wide base and narrow top, is typical of a young population. This shape is the results of high birth rates that feed more and more people into the lowest bars and in turn shrink the relative proportion at the oldest ages. In 2000 and 2016, the base of the pyramid has started to narrow because of the fall in birth rates.

These are typical of a population with a slow growth rate. The female bars are almost always longer because women live longer than men. Between 1972 and 2016, there has been a decline in the proportion of children in the age group 0-14 while the proportion of old persons aged 60 and above has increased steadily. (see charts of relevant Population Pyramids)

Population growth rate over time

Population growth rate over time

Population pyramid 1972

Population pyramid 1972

Population pyramid 2000

Population pyramid 2000

Population pyramid 2016

Population pyramid 2016