KINGSTON — Director General of the Planning Institute of Jamaica, Dr. Gladstone Hutchinson has said that the agency is leading the charge in formulating policy on social issues for the 60 years and older population, and ensuring that structural changes are integrated in all national policies, plans, and programmes.
This is critical, as statistics indicate that there is an increasing aging population, 60 years and over, Dr. Hutchinson revealed while speaking at the PIOJ/United Nations Population Fund conference on July 11, 2011 at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston.
He said this type of strategic planning for the population and the changes that will occur, “will facilitate the national adjustment to provide support for health care, education, social protection systems and issues dealing with the well being and dignity of our elderly population."
Dr. Hutchinson outlined that by 2030, there will be 450,000 Jamaicans, aged 60 years and older. This represents a 66.5 per cent increase over the 299,500 persons in that demographic, which were recorded at the end of 2010.
He said that the age group, 60 years and older was the fastest growing segment of the total population, which, he noted, will continue up to 2030, despite the slow growth of the general population, which statistics project will reach 2.9 million up from 2.7 million in 2010.
“At the Planning Institute, we are committed to embarking on our own studies based on our own realities to address some of these issues and while we are mindful that the changes in the population have there challenges, we also should realize that this demographic bonus is a perfect bit of opportunity for imagining new ways for achieving growth in economic development in our country,” Dr. Hutchinson said.
Meanwhile, he pointed out that the data being collected by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN), when analysed, will enable the PIOJ to provide evidence-based technical and policy advice for planning.
To this end, the Director General called on public and private sector entities to support the work of STATIN. “It is critically important that we support the work of STATIN, otherwise we are engaging in guesstimations when we could be using evidence based analysis,” Dr. Hutchinson added.
The conference was held to commemorate World Population Day, which was observed under the theme ‘The World at 7 Billion-Population Ageing: Implications for Development in Jamaica’. World Population Day was first observed in 1989 as a means of focusing attention on the urgency and importance of population issues.
By E. HARTMAN RECKORD, JIS Information Officer