Declining fertility rate could result in more disposable income

Home Business Declining fertility rate could result in more disposable income

WINDHOEK – The projected decline in the Namibian fertility rate, as well as the decline in young people aged 15 years, in the next 20 years would have no serious effects on economic activities, says the Namibia Statistics Agency.

“We are not worried about the decline in fertility. In fact, it is a very positive development and also reflects progress and development. While the fertility rate is projected to decline, it will still be high enough to replace the current workforce. We will also still have a very young population, and expect that for many years to come the workforce will just continue to increase, and due to lower fertility, the dependency ratio will decrease. Overall, if the economy continues to grow and hopefully with it employment opportunities, disposable income and per capita income should increase. This will be good for Namibia,” said Statistician General, Dr John Steytler, in response to questions by New Era on whether the NSA is not worried that this would translate into a shrinking workforce, and other associated socio-economic problems that come with the widening generation gap.
Last week the NSA released their 30-year Populations Projections for Namibia, based on the 2011 Housing and Population Census, from 2011 to 2041. The projections show that a declining fertility rate will decrease the share of the Namibian population under the age of 15, from 36.4 percent to 33.7 percent. According to the report, the total fertility rate (the number of births per woman) is expected to decline from 3.9 percent in 2011 to 2.4 by 2041. When asked if the NSA is concerned about a possible disruption to Namibia’s production capacity and available workforce as the number of people under 15 will be less, Steytler said: “Again we are not too worried about this, because the decline is not too sharp, and this will lead to a decline in the dependency ratio, which is good for development. Right now the dependency ratio [that is the number of young people depending on a few income earners] is just too high. In fact, a lower than projected dependency ratio would be more desirable.”
The NSA says the Population Projections is a good report because it showed that the fertility rate will decline, that the mortality rate will decline, that the dependency ratio will decline and that life expectancy will increase, which are all good indicators. The report also states that recent patterns of migration will continue into the future, meaning that the number of people living in rural areas is expected to gradually shrink while those living in urban areas are projected to increase sharply by 2041.
According to the report the share of the population living in urban areas should increase from 43 percent in 2011 to 67 percent in 2041. This will result in over a third of Namibia’s population living in the Khomas and Erongo regions by 2041. “It shows that more people will live in urban centres, which again is good for planning purposes. But the report also shows if planning is not forward looking, there will be huge challenges. It is our hope that policy makers will digest this report and attune plans to avert future potential crises,” warned Steytler.
“Our hope is that policy makers will critically examine the report for policy implications and if needed attune policy towards evidence-based policy. We now have evidence, we have measured the problem, and we have located the problem. It is up to policy makers to rise to the occasion to come up with good, well-informed and responsive policies,” he said.