Bhutan’s de­clin­ing fer­til­ity rate to­wards a gray­ing pop­u­la­tion by 2047

Bhutan Times - - Front Page - Thuk­ten Zangpo

The num­ber of chil­dren born in our coun­try are not able to meet the re­place­ment level and it is fur­ther go­ing to de­cline in fu­ture.

The fall in the growth rate of pop­u­la­tion is a con­cern and spe­cific mea­sures to lower fer­til­ity are not ex­pected.

How­ever, the fam­ily plan­ning pro­gram should con­tinue to pro­mote re­pro­duc­tive, ma­ter­nal, and child health.

At present, the fer­til­ity rate at 1.9 is as­sumed to de­cline to 1.7 by 2032 and will re­main at the same level through­out the pro­jec­tion pe­riod, pop­u­la­tion pro­jec­tions re­port (2017-2047) finds out.

The fer­til­ity rate in Bhutan re­mains below the re­place­ment level at 2.1 (num­ber of chil­dren per woman dur­ing her en­tire re­pro­duc­tive age).

Due to the de­clin­ing fer­til­ity rates, the birth rate will de­cline sub­stan­tially to 11 births per 1000 pop­u­la­tion and the an­nual growth rate will fall from 0.99 per­cent in 2017 to 0.27 per­cent in 2047, it states.

More­over, it has been seen in al­most all the coun­tries that once fer­til­ity reaches a low level, it does not show any sus­tained rise, even in the pres­ence of pro-na­tal­ist poli­cies.

The re­port also projects life ex­pectancy to in­crease from 67.6 in 2016 to 75.2 years in 2047 for males and 70.6 in 2016 to 78.5 years in 2047 for fe­males.

With the de­cline in the fer­til­ity rate, Bhutan is go­ing to en­ter into age­ing of pop­u­la­tion that of ages above 65 years (el­derly) will in­crease from 6 per­cent to 13 per­cent dur­ing the pro­jec­tion pe­riod. Sim­i­larly, the pop­u­la­tion in ages 0-14 years (chil­dren) will fall con­sid­er­ably from 26% to 17 per­cent.

In the pro­jec­tion pe­riod, Bhutan will also see high de­mo­graphic div­i­dend with the pop­u­la­tion in the ages bwtween 15 to 64 years (work­ing age) rise cross­ing 70 per­cent in mid 2020s im­ply­ing a low de­pen­dency ra­tio of close to 40, and main­tain­ing at that level till mid 2040s.

It sug­gests a pe­riod of de­mo­graphic div­i­dend for a few decades and there­after it will rise. But af­ter some time, the de­pen­dency ra­tio will rise and the de­mo­graphic op­por­tu­nity will be­gin to close.

The half of the pop­u­la­tion in Bhutan would be above 40 years, as me­dian age is pro­jected to in­crease to 40 years by 2047 from 26.9 in 2017. Thus, it re­ports that there would be in­creased Non-Com­mu­ni­ca­ble and de­gen­er­a­tive dis­eases, giv­ing more pres­sure on health and other social ser­vices.

Mor­tal­ity rate is ex­pected to fall but due to the age­ing pop­u­la­tion, the crude death rate is go­ing to main­tain at around the same level as in 2017 with mar­ginal in­crease to about 8 deaths per 1000 pop­u­la­tion by 2047.

Since, the num­ber of chil­dren born would drop an­nu­ally; the pop­u­la­tion in the school go­ing age would de­cline grad­u­ally call­ing for a pol­icy shift in the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem.

“We have huge po­ten­tial, we can de­rive bet­ter rev­enue from the de­mo­graphic div­i­dend than hy­dropower,” Ly­onch­hen Dr Lo­tay Tsh­er­ing said dur­ing the launch of the re­port on Jan­uary 11.

Shar­ing his con­cerns on the de­clin­ing fer­til­ity rate, Lo­tay Tsh­er­ing said that he is wor­ried that it would be dif­fi­cult to re­verse the once the fer­til­ity drops cer­tain level. “We will make best use of the data,” he added.

Speak­ing on the im­por­tance of the re­port, Direc­tor of Na­tional Sta­tis­ti­cal Bureau (NSB), Ch­hime Tsh­er­ing said, “It can alert pol­icy mak­ers to mea­sure de­mo­graphic trends and assess in com­ing up with pol­icy in­ter­ven­tions for sus­tained socio-eco­nomic growth.”

It is pro­jected that pop- ula­tion of Bhutan will con­tinue to grow but at a slower pace. The pop­u­la­tion is pro­jected to reach 883,866 per­sons by 2047 from 735,553 in 2017.

There will be 453 thou­sand males and 431 thou­sand fe­males by 2047, with a sex ra­tio of 105 males per 100 fe­males in Bhutan, a small de­cline from the cur­rent level of 110.

The ur­ban­iza­tion in Bhutan is hap­pen­ing at a mod­er­ate pace and by 2047, it is pro­jected that more than half of the to­tal pop­u­la­tion, 56.8 per­cent will re­side in ur­ban ar­eas. The pop­u­la­tion growth is not ex­pected to be uni­form across all Dzongkhags.

The pro­jec­tion re­port re­veals that about 30 per­cent of the to­tal pop­u­la­tion which is about 260,000 per­sons will re­side in Thim­phu Dzong- khag by 2047. Other Dzongkhags pop­u­la­tion could have pop­u­la­tion ex­ceed­ing 50,000 per­sons how­ever, not more than 100,000.

The re­port presents at two dif­fer­ent lev­els, Na­tional level and Sub-Na­tional (Dzongkhag) level. The na­tional level re­port spans for a pe­riod of thirty years (2017-2047) while, the Dzongkhag level is for ten years.

The pop­u­la­tion pro­jec­tion was done ba­si­cally to pro­vide data for the pur­poses of pol­icy for­mu­la­tion, socio-eco­nomic plan­ning, ser­vice de­liv­ery, and in­di­ca­tors for mea­sur­ing progress to­wards the achieve­ment of key gov­ern­ment tar­gets.

The re­port was pub­lished by the NSB with tech­ni­cal and fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance from the United Na­tion Pop­u­la­tions Fund, Bhutan.

Ly­onch­hen Dr Lo­tay Tsh­er­ing, Speaker of the Na­tional Assem­bly Wangchuk Nam­gay, Op­po­si­tion Leader Dr Pema Gyamt­sho auncheed the Pop­u­la­tion Pro­jec­tions Re­port 2017-2047.

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