Thursday, October 29, 2015

Is Demography in Cuba a Problem?

The New York Times just had an article lamenting the fact that Cubans were choosing to have fewer children, clearly seeing that as a problem. My dad responds:

But, wait a second. One of the reasons why the country has a growing older population is because the death rate is so low in Cuba. Life expectancy in Cuba is 78 years at birth, compared to 79 for the United States. Think about that. We complain in this country about how expensive health care is, but in poverty-stricken Cuba your chances of death at any given age are about the same as here. Why? Education is the key, as the article itself notes, quoting a former World Bank economist, Helen Denton.

Basically, as people become more educated, they tend to have fewer children. Obviously Cuba also has serious economic problems, but people would likely be having fewer children regardless. So we shouldn't be too surprised.

As far as problems, as my dad and I have argued, that as your population structure changes it becomes harder to sustain certain kinds of economic models. But this should be a matter of policy adaption, not lamenting that people are becoming more educated and therefore making different decisions about children than they might have in the past.


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