Sunday, February 13, 2011

Fertility rates too low to ensure population growth

By Poly Pantelides
ΤHE average number of children born to women in Cyprus was 1.5 in 2009, way below the necessary 2.1 to ensure population replacement levels, statistics released yesterday show.

Population growth figures would be even lower were it not for immigration, a Statistical Services official said commenting on their just released 2009 Demographic Report.
Cyprus’ “significant net migration balance”, explains its comparatively high population growth among the 27 European Union countries, the report states. A total of 128,200 foreign residents make up 14.6 per cent of the estimated 892,400 total population.
Immigration remains a sensitive issue in Cyprus with views varying considerably. Union PEO has accused employers of exploiting migrant labour and DEOK has scolded the Labour Ministry’s “grave inadequacy” in dealing with immigrants’ needs.
At the other extreme are the views of the far right. “Foreigners have grown completely insolent,” said far right group ELAM yesterday, commenting on Thursday’s incident at Larnaca’s Welfare Office where Palestinian asylum seekers protested over the late arrival of their monthly benefit cheques.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister, Neoclis Sylikiotis, has talked of the need to integrate migrants and their family members into Cypriot society.
Low birth rates mean that Cypriots are ageing, with the proportion of persons over 65 years increasing to 13 per cent and 45 to 64 years old going up to 25 per cent of the total population in government-controlled Cyprus in 2007. The proportion of children below 15 has decreased to 16.9 per cent.
Life expectancy at birth has risen for the period 2008/9 at 77.9 years for males and 82.4 for females compared to 78.3 years for males and 81.9 years for the period 2006/7.
In 2009, divorce rates have risen 6 per cent and the total number of marriages decreased to 12,769 from 13,395 from the year before.
Cyprus has the third smallest population in the EU ranking behind Malta and Luxembourg.