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Belize population to grow to 400,000 in 2018; economists concerned

Posted: Saturday, June 9, 2018. 4:03 PM. CST.

By BBN Staff: This year Belize is projected to have a population of almost 400,000 citizens. A publication by the Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB) puts projections at approximately 398,050 which represents a gradual growth from the estimated 248,916 figure in 2000. As a matter of fact, between 2000 and 2010 the population grew by 30% or 75,000 persons.

According to SIB, Belize’s population grows by an average of 2.65% annually and every 25 years the country’s population doubles. At this rate, by the year 2040 there will be an estimated 720,000 Belizeans.

With an increasing population our newsroom pondered about the implications on the Belizean economy.

Belizean economist, Dr. Leroy Almendarez told our newsroom,”Firstly, our population’s growth is faster than output; in other words, on average our population grows about 3 percent per anum and output grows less, which means that there would be a shortage and therefore, prices would rise since it can lead to scarcity if that is the trend. On the other hand if the population is growing but it is with highly skilled individuals as opposed to manual labor type individuals then that can bring down wage rates but then we also have low level skilled individuals who become more of a burden on society.”

“For us to compete on a global level we must enhance our skill development, become a bit more industrialized so that we can create greater efficiency and acquire higher level technologies…we must also ensure that people can acquire the skill necessary to compete. It also means that the educational institutions have to formally and informally embrace the change required and make education more relevant…,” he added.

Given Belize’s political and economic climate, we asked Dr. Almendarez if Belize is in a position to meet the needs of 400,000 citizens.

He replied, “Remember that there is no political independence without economic independence therefore, its whether the people of Belize are wide eyes and aware enough to know that the challenges are becoming stronger and we must find strategies to turn these challenges into opportunity. We need to diversify ourselves and build our own personal economy so that we can contribute to the macro-economic growth of this country and to ensure that the growth is translated into economic development that will enhance the social well-being of its people but it cannot be trickle down economics but ensuring that the wealth of the nation is more equitably distributed. The politicians or those who aspire to be must have a vision of total growth of Belize and not self growth….”

Dr. Almendarez’s position was shared by Wallace Usher, a financial accounting student at the University of the West Indies. Usher told BBN that, “Population growth without a positive correlation of economic growth will only lead to an increase in poverty and an increase in the cost of living.”

He added that it has been a while since the country has seen any real economic development.

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