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