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FOCUS: Can Jersey avoid hitting 150,000 people by 2040?

FOCUS: Can Jersey avoid hitting 150,000 people by 2040?

Monday 12 June 2023

FOCUS: Can Jersey avoid hitting 150,000 people by 2040?

Monday 12 June 2023


Under current economic conditions, Jersey will need a population of around 150,000 people by 2040 to maintain living standards, according to a new report... But is there anything we can do to avoid that?

The estimate can be found within the Government’s first annual Common Population Policy report published today, which represents the current position of the Council of Ministers regarding population.

"Not acceptable"

Chief Minister Kristina Moore has said the figure is "not acceptable" and that the government would be developing policies to "prevent this scenario".

The 36-page document sets out the findings of the Population and Skills Ministerial Group established by Deputy Moore in September.

Sue Duhamel, Associate Director of Population and Housing at Social Security, said that the overarching aim was to "broadly" maintain the population at current levels, with the focus on three strategic aims rather than focusing on numbers.

Those aims, she said, are:

  • ensuring that the island has sufficient digital skills,
  • that older people are welcomed back into the economy so that their skills can be used effectively, and 
  • a focus on building a diverse and inclusive community in which those moving to Jersey help cultivate the island's identity.

Current population make-up

On Census Day in March 2021, the resident population of Jersey was 103,267, which was significantly lower than the previously estimated figure of 107,800 at 31 December 2019.

Population_data.jpg

Pictured: On census day in March 2021, the resident population of Jersey was 103,267. (GoJ)

Today’s report notes that Jersey has an aging population, with a "significant number" of islanders currently of working age expected to retire between now and 2040, and fewer younger islanders in the workforce to support the economy.

Falling fertility rates

The island also has a declining total fertility rate, recorded as "1.32 births per woman" during the period 2020 to 2022.

This was the lowest recorded since 2003 and lower than England and Wales.

population_data_3.jpg

Pictured: The island also has a declining total fertility rate.

Fewer people of working age

In 2021, there were almost 2 (1.93) people of working age in Jersey for every person of non-working age. By 2040 this ratio is estimated to fall to between 1.4 and 1.7.

In the foreword of the report, Deputy Moore noted that without "concerted action across the whole economy", indicative modelling points to a 2040 scenario in which Jersey would require a population of around 150,000 just to maintain current standards of living.

population_data_2.jpg

In 2021, there were 1.93 people of working age in Jersey for every person of non-working age. By 2040 this ratio is estimated to fall to between 1.4 and 1.7.

The model was calculated using GVA (gross added value), which is a measure of the value of goods and services produced in an economy.

A plan for the future economy?

Deputy Moore said: "This is a figure that is not acceptable to me or to ministers, and we have already initiated actions to prevent this scenario. Jersey faces long-term economic challenges and concerted action against a future that overly relies on inward migration is already being planned by the Minister for Economic Development, Tourism, Sport and Culture [Deputy Kirsten Morel]."

She noted that Deputy Morel was leading a 'Future Economy Programme', which will see a strategy presented later this year.

"It will set out our need for economic growth but, as far as possible, make proposals for this to be achieved without reliance on unrestrained population growth, so that we can maintain and protect our environment, our heritage, and our community spirit – all of that which make our island so special," Deputy Moore added.

Other action points highlighted in the report relate to Jersey’s "changing demographic" and "promoting equity".

The former policy theme involves helping islanders to stay economically active, as well as taking advantage of new technologies around automation and artificial intelligence to improve productivity.

The latter will look at housing controls and how to improve support available to workers arriving in Jersey for the first time.

Assistant Chief Minister Deputy Lucy Stephenson – who is part of the PSMG – said: "This is really the first time that we’ve seen detailed modelling forecasting this challenge that we are facing as an Island."

She acknowledged that the Future Economy Programme being led by Deputy Morel was a "really key part" of the plans but stressed that "this isn’t about forcing anybody to work when they don’t want to".

"At the end of the day it is about how we can make Jersey a happy, healthy and vibrant place to live," she added.

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