Wednesday, June 15, 2011

[pima.nius] Pacific's population tops 10 million --Now putting pressure on stretched resources.

1:07 PM |

via Pac journos

SPC article via PacTrade, featured in Islands Business.

POLITICS: Pacific's population tops 10 million

Now putting pressure on stretched resources

ISLANDS BUSINESS STORY JUNE 2011


This month the population of the Pacific Islands is expected to reach a
major milestone-10 million.
This number is expected to continue its upward march, reaching 15 million by
2035, although there is considerable variety across the region, with some
countries and territories even shrinking in population.
The growth rate means that another 188,000 people-equivalent to the
population of Samoa-are being added to the total each year.
It also means increased demand on already stretched transport, energy,
health and education infrastructure, not to mention food and water supply,
employment opportunities and housing.
According to data provided to the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC)
by its 22 islands members, the region's population has climbed steadily,
totalling 4 million in 1970, 6 million in 1990, and 8 million in 2000 (see
Figure 1).
Detailed population information is available on SPC's PRISM (Pacific
Regional Information System) website at: www.spc.int/prism.
For readers of Islands Business, it may not be news that most people in the
region live in Melanesia (8.8 million or 88%) compared to Polynesia (668,000
or 7%) and Micronesia (546,000 or 5%). But what is not so well known is the
extent of the differences in the population numbers within the
region-between sub-regions, countries and territories.
Papua New Guinea's big numbers skew the picture (the country is home to 70%
of the region's inhabitants today and its population is expected to reach 10
million by 2030), making it important not to generalise across the region.
Melanesia's population is growing by 2% a year, faster than that of
Micronesia (1.5%) and Polynesia (0.7%).
The fastest growing countries and territories are Guam (2.7%), Solomon
Islands (2.7%) and Vanuatu (2.6%), where high growth rates are due to high
birth rates.
But some populations are shrinking. For example, the populations of Niue
(-2.3%) and Tokelau (-0.2%) have declined due to continuous emigration to
New Zealand. The population of Wallis and Futuna shrank by 1500 between 2003
and 2008 and that of Federated States of Micronesia by 4000 between 2000 and
2010.
The population of Northern Mariana Islands was down marginally in 2011 due
to the closure of many of its garment factories.
The most densely populated countries and territories in 2010 were Nauru (485
people per square kilometre), Tuvalu (431), Guam (355), American Samoa
(335), and Marshall Islands (304). Within countries, density varies
considerably, with high density linked to social and health problems where
there has been rapid urbanisation, for example in Kiribati.
The least densely populated countries are Niue (6 people per square
kilometre), and the Melanesian countries of New Caledonia (14), Papua New
Guinea (15), Solomon Islands (18), and Vanuatu (21).
What does all this mean? For a better idea of what's going on, we need to
look at sub-regional population profiles (see Figure 2).
With high birth and low life expectancy rates, Melanesia has a 'youth
explosion' pyramid shape in its population profile. Forty percent of the
population of Papua New Guinea and 38% of that of Solomon Islands consist of
children under 15 years.
Although they are not growing at the same rate, Polynesia and Micronesia
also have large youth populations. Marshall Islands (42% of the population
under 15 years), Samoa (38%) and Tonga (38%) top youth charts there.
Interestingly, both sub-region population profiles have 'tighter
waistlines', with lower numbers in the 30-40 age group, indicating that more
people in this group have migrated and/or are working overseas.
This is reflected in the higher age dependency ratios of natural
resource-poor countries. The age dependency ratio is an indicator of the
economic burden the productive portion of the population must carry.
With more than 80 dependent people per 100 'economically productive' people,
this ratio was highest in Tonga (85), the Marshall Islands (85), Samoa (83),
and Tokelau (83). When combined with the lower numbers in the 30-40 age
bracket, it indicates the impact of migration on the statistics and the
importance of remittances.
The story is different in natural resource-richer and more populous
Melanesian countries, where labour migration has had less of an impact on
the bigger population numbers. How these countries develop their resources
and whether expanding economies such as Australia and China draw on this
pool of unskilled labour remains to be seen.
The highest proportions of people aged over 60 years are in Niue (16%),
Wallis and Futuna (13%), Tokelau (12%), Cook Islands (12%), New Caledonia
(12%) and Guam (11%). Excluding Pitcairn (50), the oldest median age levels
are evident in Palau (35), Niue (34) and New Caledonia (31).
SPC demographers note that rapid population increases affect both the
overall quality of life and the quality of vital services in health and
education and are linked to high levels of infant and maternal mortality.
They emphasise that it will take generations to slow the momentum of
population growth in the region. However, the level of fertility in the
region has substantially declined from 40 years ago when women had on
average 7-8 children. Today, that average is less than five in all countries
in the Pacific and there are only eight countries where women have more than
four children on average.

. Article courtesy of Secretariat of the Pacific Community.






--
Lisa Williams-Lahari
Media Freelancer
Regional Coordinator, IFJ Pacific Media for Democracy and Human Rights
Project
Ph Mobile: 677-7574230
Skype: lisalahari

* "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that
matter."-- Martin Luther King Jr.  *

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aotearoa, new zealand
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The pima.nius googlegroup is a facility for discussion and distributing information. Content sent by this googlegroup are forwarded from various networks and media publications.
 
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