by Khetam Malkawi | Jan 12, 2013 | 21:22

AMMAN — Jordan is unlikely to reduce its birthrate to 2.1 births per woman by 2030, according to a report issued recently by the Higher Population Council (HPC).

The report, which analyses population indicators from 2007-2011, showed that during the period under study, the birthrate in Jordan remained stable at 3.8 births per woman, casting doubt on whether it will decline in time for the Kingdom to take advantage of its demographic opportunity.

The demographic opportunity refers to the stage in a country’s development at which the ratio of dependents to workers is lowest, and HPC Secretary General Raeda Qutob warned in previous statements that the opportunity could be lost if population growth is not checked.

One obstacle to achieving this goal, the report said, is a shortage of reproductive health services in the Kingdom, in both the public and private healthcare sectors.

Unexpected levels of immigration and the return of Jordanian expatriate workers are also preventing the Kingdom from reaching its population objectives.

The report, a copy of which was sent to The Jordan Times, showed that although the percentage of the population that is economically active nearly doubled from 13.1 per cent in 2007 to 25 per cent in 2011, it is likely to remain below the international average of 45-55 per cent by 2030.

One of the reasons for these low rates is the employment of foreign labour in some sectors that Jordanians refuse to work in due to low wages.

Another reason is the low contribution of women in the workforce, the report said, noting that some employers prefer to hire male rather than female employees.

The report did not present statistics to support this statement, but a report issued last March by the Labour Observatory said that only 14.9 per cent of Jordanian women participated in the workforce, compared to 64.8 per cent of men.

According to the HPC’s policy, the demographic opportunity becomes evident when the working-age population (individuals aged 15-64 years) starts to grow significantly higher compared to the population of dependents (under 15 and over 64).

The HPC’s projections predict that this trend will reach its peak in the early 2030s, when working age people will make up about 69 per cent of the Kingdom’s population, whereas the percentage of dependents is expected to decrease from 36 per cent to 25 per cent in 2030, dropping further to 22 per cent in 2050.

Consequently, the ratio of dependents to workers will fall from its current level of 66 dependents per 100 workers to 45 per 100 in 2030.

According to Qutob, seizing the demographic opportunity entails reducing the projected population by about 1.4 million individuals in 2030 and by about 4.6 million in 2050.—-report