Even as emerging Asian economies like India and China are banking on their youth to retain their competitive edge, Mauritius appears to be laboring under the burden of an ageing population. In fact, by 2052, the proportion of people aged 60 and above in the population is projected to be 30.2%, around a third of the total populace.
According to the latest data for 2012 released by the Ministry of Health on Friday, the proportion of the elderly, aged 60 years and above, has increased from 5.4% of the total population in Mauritius in 1962 to 12.3% in 2012, compared to 9.1% in the year 2000 and showing an average increase of about one per cent per year.
This does not bode well for augmenting the workforce of the island nation, which is increasingly looking at new-age sectors like Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and the ocean economy to take a leap in the economic sphere.
Moreover, the Family Planning and Demographic Yearbook 2012 identified Mauritius among the 10 countries having the highest population density in the world with 672 persons per square kilometre in 2012.
As more and more people reside on the island, the economy is bound to face a burden in terms of provision of basic utilities such as water, electricity, healthcare services and education, besides encountering situations where its infrastructure is stretched to the limit – be it evidenced through road congestion, winding queues at government counters or overcrowded shopping arenas.
The report further stated that Mauritius is witnessing a demographic shift with declining fertility rate and increasing life expectancy.
The report went on to add that in the last 15 years, the total fertility rate steadily decreased to below replacement fertility level of 2.1, that is, the rate required for a population to replace itself.
“In 2012, the total fertility rate was 1.41 which is the lowest figure in Africa and comparable to developed countries,” it highlighted.
Statistical projections show that the population growth rate will follow a negative trend as from year 2032 and the total population of Mauritius will decrease from 1,305,310 in 2027 to 1,303,313 in 2032 and may reach 1,188,403 in 2052.
Moreover, infant mortality rate – which is often indicative of the general level of health care in a country – showed a favourable decline from 15.3 in 2007 to 13.4 in 2012.
Finally, the report also showed that the average life span for a Mauritian was 73.64 years during the period 2010-2012 with life expectancy at birth for women being about seven years longer than that of men (77.15 years for females and 70.13 years for males).
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