Population crisis prevents economic growth

As an economist I believe that the demographic development of our country is, without exaggeration, a national emergency. Our population is shrinking, aging, experiencing more emigration, and there is a significant imbalance between the number of women and men. The most concerning aspect is the alarmingly low number of babies being born. The fertility rate, which is the average number of babies that a woman will have during her lifetime, has dropped from 3.0 in 1970 to 1.6 in 2023. It is scientifically determined that an average of 2.2 babies (or 2.1 in wealthy countries) is needed to maintain population stability. 

On various occasions since 2009, I have raised the alarm, including in Parliament and in my publication, "Curaçao’s Population Crisis" (2022) for Global Americans, a New York-based think tank. 

Today, I address the economic aspect related to fertility. A new study, "Society at a Glance 2024" by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), warns about the consequences of low fertility rates. https://www.oecd.org/publication/society-at-a-glance/2024/  

The lack of workers, reduced productivity, lower consumption, inflation, problems with pension and social funds, and unmanageable medical insurance will become severe issues. I repeat, without a change in demographic trends, it is impossible for the economy to grow sustainably. 

Our decision-makers must act. Every politician pushes for more new sports fields (in addition to the existing and neglected ones). For whom to use? Probably to gain votes from poorly informed voters. 

Year in, year out, population statistics are released, but beyond the quantitative aspect (which is deficient because, as a CBS employee told me last month: “there are not enough people to update the numbers”), there is no qualitative analysis. For the qualitative aspect, see my article in Global Americans. 

No member of Parliament has proposed addressing and managing demographic issues. There is no concrete action to facilitate the integration of workers living outside our island into our labor market. There is no discussion about stimulating procreation with work-life balance, daycare, greater gender equality, and more innovation in this area. We remain complacent until the bill comes due. By then, it will be too late. 


Alex David Rosaria (53) is a freelance consultant active in Asia & Pacific. He is a former Member of Parliament, Minister of Economic Affairs, State Secretary of Finance and UN Implementation Officer in Africa and Central America. He’s from Curaçao and has a MBA from the University of Iowa. (USA).