This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Thursday, August 22, 2019

Cuba Prepares for an Aging Population

Thanks to Greg Weeks for pointing me to an article just published in Granma, the official newspaper of the communist party in Cuba. The country is in the process of "revolutionizing" its thinking about employment issues. Why? Because the population is aging, and if people stop working, or are not properly trained for the jobs the country needs filled, the economy will be in big trouble.  The article is clear about the demographic underpinnings of these policy initiatives:
With 20.4% of Cuba’s population 60 years of age or older, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics and Information (ONEI), the country is experiencing accelerated aging.Between 2011 and 2025, the population is projected to decrease in absolute numbers; and almost 26% of the population will be 60 years of age or older, with a absolute growth of those aged 80 years or more. By 2030, the population will include 3.3 million older adults, directly impacting families and the workforce.
These numbers are very similar to the estimates and projections of the UN Population Division. They estimate that the current population of Cuba is about to peak at 11.3 million, and it will drop to 11.1 million by 2030, at which point an estimated 30% of the population will be aged 60 and over. In essence, those people need to keep working.

Almost five years ago, Greg and I published an Op-Ed piece in the Washington Post in which we felt that the opening up of Cuba by the Obama administration was going to be a big help to Cuba, since its financial aid from Venezuela was clearly in trouble due to that country's huge problems. The Trump administration has reversed that policy, of course, and so Cuba is essentially on its own, having to cope with its demographic situation as best it can. The Granma article notes that the government has even been working with sub-fecund women in an attempt to improve their chances of having a baby and thus raising the birth rate at least a little bit. The TFR is currently estimated to be about 1.6 children per woman, so it is going to take a lot to push the birth rate closer to replacement level. Of course, those kids won't be in the labor force for at least another couple of decades, so these labor force improvements are a must.