President of the Barbados Association of Retired Persons (BARP) Edward Bushell is in full agreement that Barbadians need to reproduce more to combat the declining birthrate, and he says Government may have to offer incentives to get people to have more children.
He made that call this week as he noted that a declining birth rate is a universal problem, and suggested that the Freundel Stuart administration should learn from developed countries such as France, Germany and Italy that are addressing the issue.
“Some countries [whose] population is rapidly declining opt to give people incentives to have children,” he noted on the sidelines of a press conference at BARP headquarters.
Bushell agreed with Minister of Education Ronald Jones who came under fire in June when, pointing out the huge decline in the number of students writing the Barbados Secondary Schools’ Entrance Examination this year, he argued that Barbadians needed to have more children.
“If you have been following what has been happening, there’s been a declining birth rate in Barbados and this is being reflected in the number of students at age 11 who have been writing the exam,” Jones said at the time, warning that the implications of the falling birth rate extended beyond the education system. “It’s not only for the schools, but for the nation as a whole, where a declining population will have an impact on what we do to support older generations and national development as a whole.”
Bushell echoed Jones’ warning, saying that the falloff in births was not an issue for his organization only, but a national one.
He noted that by 2025, there would be more people over 65 than under 16, which would have implications for the National Insurance Scheme since there would be fewer young people making contributions.
Bushell said something therefore needed to be done urgently.
“Barbados is an aging society and eventually the number of people over 67 in proportion to those under 67 is going to change dramatically,” he said.