havana-live-old population cubaHAVANA, Sept. 29  (EFE) Cuba by 2050 will have the ninth-oldest population in the world, according to official projections released over the weekend, which also give the first hint that this trend toward aging will go hand in hand with a decline in the island’s labor force.

By that time, some 35 years from now, Cuba will have an estimated 3,598,782 inhabitants 60 years old or over – about 33.2 percent of the total population – according to calculations of the Population and Development Studies Center, or CEPDE, of the National Statistics and Information Office, or ONEI, cited in an article published in the official daily Juventud Rebelde.

Demography experts predict that the island’s population will continue to fluctuate by “more or less” stable degrees, with years when it increases alternating with years when it decreases, but “always very little,” until around 2025, when a “sustained” decline in the number of inhabitants is expected.

The article recalls that since 1978 Cuban child-bearing has fallen below the replacement level for each woman of reproductive age, while at the same time CEPDE specialists predict “slight” increases in the global fertility rate, from 1.71 children per woman at the end of 2015 to 1.96 halfway through this century.

They also believe that the introduction of new economic measures on the island are likely to stimulate child-bearing, so that by the year 2025 Cuba will have its most numerous population with 11,309,665 inhabitants compared with the 11,223,948 registered now.

But by 2050 that trend will have turned around once again and will have lost 3.6 percent of the current population, the study says.

Meanwhile, with the aging of the island’s population, one of the greatest concerns is the number of active people left in the labor force, which will decline in proportion to the number that will no longer be of an age or physically able to work, and will consequently stop contributing to the nation’s economy.

In that regard, at the end of this year the number of active Cubans is estimate to stand at 7.2 million between the ages of 15 and 59, but by 2040 the deficit of workers could be more than 815,000.

The government understands that the aging population is one of the main challenges facing the nation, and President Raul Castro himself has called for an “urgent” search to find solutions to the problems that stem from that trend, including changes in welfare services.