“Continued Shrinkage Is Slow Economic Poison”

June 30, 2015

[Opinion column written by Larry Burchall]

As though hit by a poisonous gas seeping into the air that we breath, it has happened. Bermudians have begun heading for extinction. Dying off. Bermuda has entered a new era.

Stumbling towards it for over fifteen years, in 2014, Bermudians began dying faster than they were being born. In 2014, Bermuda’s death rate for Bermudians finally and materially exceeded Bermuda’s birth rate for Bermudians [See the chart].

As reported by the Registrar General in the Annual Report on Births and Deaths in 2014, there were 441 Bermudian babies born in Bermuda; however, as many as 478 Bermudians died. Arithmetic shows that 441 births – 478 deaths = -37 deaths.

So thirty-seven more Bermudians died than were born. So last year Bermuda stumbled into negative birth-rate. From now on, all Bermudians must recognize that born Bermudians are dying faster than they are being born and replaced.

However, that number of minus 37 fewer is only a start number. It does not tell the whole story.

The rest of the story about this disappearing specie [I’ve written and spoken about this before] involves additional data, most of it un-measured and uncollected. But whether collected and measured or not, the data is still real, still exists, and is now morbidly relevant.

That 2014 Registry General Report shows that the number of Bermudians shrunk by 37. Then there is Bermudian emigration. The Department of Statistics reports that between Censuses 2000 and 2010, it was discovered that Bermudians had been emigrating at the average rate of about 68 per year.

Add that newly discovered and first-time reported negative to this new negative of 37. That’s [-68-37 = -105] MINUS 105 a year.

What about students – our sons and daughters – who go off to secondary and tertiary education overseas and then do NOT return? No Government department collects that data. So nationally, we don’t know what this vitally important number is. We simply do not know!

However, assume that every year, we send about 250 fresh young Bermudian students to various overseas institutions. That 250 number may be high, it may be low. But you know that a big chunk of Bermuda’s young people go away every year.

From that 250, how many eventually return before they’re 55 or older? The anecdotal evidence from individuals, families, and friends is that about half do not return. The other half stay overseas, work overseas, marry and start families overseas, and Do Not Come Back to live and work here as Bermudian residents.

Registry General Annual Reports - 2006 to 2014 - Births and Death of Bermudians

So with perhaps 125 students never coming back; we must add that 125 to the ‘birth/death’ gap and the emigration discovery. Do that and we get [-125-68-37 = -230] Minus 230. This full set of figures tells us that born Bermudians are probably disappearing from Bermuda at an annual rate of something around minus 230.

The first clear indications of a decline in the Bermudian population of Bermudians appeared in 2000. Since 2000, Bermuda’s ResPop of Bermudians has been shrinking, falling, declining.

However, this minus 230 rate of loss of born Bermudians is camouflaged – well-camouflaged – by the granting of Bermudian Status to non-Bermudians. Between 2000 and 2010, the Bermuda Government was granting Bermuda Status, primarily to Spouses, at the average rate of 181 per year. The granting of Status is continuing. With the new PRC thing, could even be marginally increasing.

If that rate of grant of Bermuda Status continues then the final or Net rate of loss or decline in Bermudians changes.

Minus 230 Bermudians a year Plus 180 grants of Bermuda Status a year equals Minus 50 Bermudians a year. So Bermuda’s population of Bermudians is really Shrinking at the Net rate of 50 Bermudians a year. But note that this Net minus 50 is Higher than the start-out minus 37.

Small though it may seem, this continued shrinkage is slow economic poison. Driven by this primary shift in a primary factor, Bermuda’s economy Will shrink and is shrinking. There are consequential social, political, and racial impacts.

To stop this hidden shrinkage, Bermuda’s ResPop of Bermudians must be sustained or stabilized so that Bermuda’s ResPop stops shrinking.

Like a house subsiding because its foundations are eroding, this is a fundamental problem that can only be fixed with fundamental solutions.

Either Bermudians suddenly start making hundreds of more babies and staying in and returning to Bermuda by the hundreds; or Bermuda must grant Bermuda Status or invite additional foreign Residents so as to increase ResPop.

This is a dynamic problem and – like babies and death – answers will happen anyhow!

There’s much more to this. So watch Bernews!

- Larry Burchall

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Category: All, Business, News, Politics

Comments (21)

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  1. Bermyman says:

    Tell this to the People’s campaign!

    • Regina says:

      Yea, they won’t like it but look at it this way: by granting these long term residents (who have already proven their love and support of Bermuda) status, we are gaining already productive, loyal, law-abiding, job-creating, money-spending people to our family. That’s a sure bet, they are a known quantity. What is the risk? What is the down-side?

  2. Lala says:

    We need to start looking at problems like this through the prism of maths rather than politics.

  3. NCM says:

    Thanks, Mr. Burchall for your analysis of this pressing problem. However, the opposition are not going to like this part: “…or Bermuda must grant Bermuda Status or invite additional foreign Residents so as to increase ResPop.”

  4. Jeremy Deacon says:

    Combine this with the numbers of expats that have left – as well as the prospect of more leaving due to the IB mergers – then Bermuda has a terrible problem, losing its people and its intellectual capital. A shrinking population cannot support economic growth ….

  5. bluebird says:

    Forget the head ache,think about the economy, think about the economy.

  6. Kangoocar says:

    It appears like the xenophobe camp has been taken over by tree frogs??? thanks Mr Burchall for once again presenting the true facts of our dire situation!!! We now have Greece and Puerto Rico unable to make their debt payments and their economies are now tanking big time!!! When will the plpers ever learn what we are heading into?? I will tell you, when their stomachs start touching their backs thru starvation!!!!

  7. Bermuda123 says:

    For goodness sake don’t set out a policy of a higher birth rate. As is true the world over, higher birth rates tend to be in lower socio-economic groups. We need people to grow the economy and politically charged as it may be, we need highly educated people to do that.

    • jtv says:

      That was already promoted as an unofficial policy.

  8. Tiger too says:

    It hurts to.say but US. Bermudians continue to walk around as if we were “king of the hill” with blinders on and cotton in our ears, and always asleep. WAKE UP and smell the roses. We are in deep doo doo .and it is getting deeper. I wonder if we are going to be the second Greece, it looks as if we are trying to. If the island was run as a business and not by POLII TRICK SHENS on BOTH sides we would have declared chapter 19! if you saw the news this evening it seems Sir John Swan is the only one looking forward and gives a doo doo. Get over it and get on with it. We need help badly.

  9. Keepin' it Real!...4Real! says:

    i’ve always enjoyed Mr. Burchalls writings BUT, i just cant really see what he is saying here to be a fix all for Bermuda…there are many people, families or persons which are unemployed or just about surviving in this island, hence kids not having sufficient nourishment for school lunches and the sort…yet he’s advising people to breed more and have more stress added to everyone’s lives…heck the young graduates now can’t even obtain employment…how on earth is an overpopulated society supposed to live a productive life under these circumstances…this is where life gets real…we are blaming the wrong end of the spectrum…the lower class has NO money, the MIDDLE class is now being eradicated or reduced to UPPER LOWER class, while the UPPER class are now the MIDDLE class, while the ELITISTS are just Livin’ la Vida Loca. do some research on tax exemptions…i’m sure you’d be delighted to see who they are…a prime example is: if a celebrity or a known millionaire walked into your place of business 9 out of 10 times i guarantee they would not be charged for an item that they may want…but let I walk into a shop with out enough funds i would be escorted out in a hurry and labeled as a nuisance or whatever…in other words you would give them in hope of them giving back to you someday…it is a crime to be desolate!

    • Kangoocar says:

      @keepin it real, you are missing the whole point champ?? We need more foreighners hers bringing $US to help support the dwindling tax base!! ( we don’t under any circumstances want locals having children they cannot afford) the plp chased out of here 5000 high earners that typically take care of themselves health wise so basically pay health insurance for little reason thus subsidizing locals premiums along with pensions!!! Our pension system is next to start feeling the strain and then what will happen when I don’t care who is the government tells retiring Bermudians they have NO pension??? In a nutshell we need more foreigners whether the plp xenophobes like it or not!!! Thankfully I have made my money, but I really feel sorry for all those that have not!

    • Zevon says:

      He’s saying that since the PLP got rid of all the expats there aren’t enough idiot taxpayers left here to keep employing the 8,000 public employees with their 6 weeks vacation and 14 weeks sick leave and guaranteed jobs for life. And the way things are we might well end up like Greece, which within the next few months will have 70% unemployment and a total fiscal collapse, unless it’s bailed out by another country that didn’t boroow and spend like idiots and wasn’t managed so stupidly.

  10. Wilson says:

    Same sex marriages will go along way to keeping the numbers ,lets do it

  11. tom cooke says:

    As for me…
    My daughter left university. .and has stayed in England. .
    I will be leaving in 3 plus yrs..with my wife and sons leaving in 2hrs. ..

    • Kangoocar says:

      Agreed Tom, and I understand why, just look at what is happening in Greece and Puerto Rico TODAY!!! The vast majority of bermudians are totally oblivious to what is heading our way because we will not become fiscally sensible because of political reasons!! The OBA can’t because they without a doubt will be voted out if they do, and the plp and thier sheeple are simply not educated enough as to what is going to happen as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow!!!
      I also am on an exit plan and my wife and children are already in the UK and I am just making as much as I can while I can!! I can guarantee you if the plp win the next election I will be gone within a week of that happening!!

      • LOLOLOLOLOLOL says:

        For the love of God almighty!!!!! Can’t you ever just post something without name calling and the degradation of your fellow man?! Its getting so tiresome!!!!!!!!!!! My eyes are bleeding from you constant dribble of sheeple, not educated enough, xenophobes and whatever else derogatory comments you use.
        You have the ability to formulate very educated response however, you do yourself and anyone who may read your comments a disservice when you throw in the whole name calling bit. You are better than that so come on!!

  12. had enough says:

    You people on this thread don’t have a clue what your talking about.


  13. Born Bermudian says:

    Why do so many expats complain about Bermuda and Bermudians but stay here ? Go back to the country you came from and leave Bermudians to suffer in this awful poor country.

  14. Charlly X says:

    Thanks again Mr Buchall for your bringing the facts forward !! This is very real !! The effects of not taking data n not reviewing it definitely our downfall detrimental . Why we Do Not is mind boggling or is it by design ? It shows just just how smart most people are . Even our census reports are somewhat inadequate . How long have the so-called highly educated known this n haven’t amended this injustice to their own country ? Smh .
    People are so caught up blinded by politics n racial division we can’t see the forest through the trees . Smdh !!! I’m still optimistic !!!!!