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Report explores ways of meeting our population challenges

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

A number of options to boost the Isle of Man’s economically active population are highlighted in a report published by the Cabinet Office.

The White Paper ‘Meeting Our Population Challenges’ is aimed at stimulating debate about the policy and actions outlined in the Programme for Government on this issue.

The document covers a range of important matters including immigration, the Island’s population size and structure, the declining birth rate, the emigration of young adults and the growing number of people in retirement.

It also lays down population projects, with different assumptions about migration, and calculates the Active Ageing Index for the Island for the first time. The summary explores ideas that could be developed to address current and future challenges.

The importance of increasing the number of people of working age was highlighted by the 2016 Census results, which revealed the first fall in the Island’s population for more than 30 years. Tackling this decline is one of main strategic objectives of the Programme for Government and recent evidence points to signs of population growth.

Policy and Reform Minister Chris Thomas MHK commissioned the population discussion paper to further analyse the situation and to consider the appropriate responses. He says the Island will need to ‘plan, monitor and manage’ its approach to population projections and policies.

The Minister commented:

‘Clearly there is no silver bullet to reverse the decline in the Island’s working age population; but we can take action to ensure it is only a population blip, similar to the short decline that was experienced here in the 1980s. The white paper is intended to encourage evidence-based debate and consideration of policy options.’

He added: ‘We cannot afford to be complacent. Our Island has to be an Island of Enterprise and Opportunity providing career and life opportunities for everyone. This white paper will help us all focus on the challenges and policy options.’

The document’s summary of recommendations sets out the types of initiatives that Government could look at to address the issues presented by the Census results and the Island’s population projections.

A wide range of proposals are explored, such as providing financial assistance towards childcare costs, creating more flexible working for parents, promoting new employment opportunities for graduates, supporting active ageing and developing nursing care provision.

The White Paper ‘Meeting Our Population Challenges’ is available on the Economic Affairs sections of the Government website.

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