Cuban population decreases by over 11,000 in 2018

HAVANA, Feb. 16 (Xinhua)  Cuba’s population decreased by over 11,000 people by the end of 2018, official media reported Saturday citing an expert from the National Statistics Bureau (NSB).

Juan Carlos Alfonso, NSB deputy director, confirmed the downward trend that has continued during the past three decades, the daily Granma reported.

The number of births slightly increased around 2,000 compared to 2017, but the overall total remains below that of previous years, Alfonso said.

At the end of 2018, the Caribbean nation had a population of 11,208,000, the specialist said.

In the last 30 years, Cuba has been seriously affected by a low birth rate and migration, which combined with a high life expectancy has led to a fast-aging population.

The high education level of Cuban women, the long-time economic crisis, and social factors such as the housing deficit, are among the main factors resulting in the low birth numbers.

The situation led the government in 2014 to establish a commission “to stimulate the birth rate and watch for the needs of the increasing number of elders.”

It has also forced authorities to dedicate more funds from the state budget to social security. It is foreseen that by 2030 these expenses will reach 10 billion U.S. dollars.

It would be a heavy burden for the state, since tourism, Cuba’s second main source of income, provides only 2.5 billion dollars a year.

In 2016, the NSB reported that more than 20 percent of the island’s population had surpassed the retirement age, which is 65 for men and 60 for women.

According to NSB forecasts, in 2050 Cuba will rank ninth in terms of a population of elders.