‘Declining Population Increases Cost Of Living’

February 26, 2022 | 31 Comments

We “have a demographic challenge in Bermuda” and “if we do not reverse these trends, it will lead to economic disaster for Bermuda,” Premier and Minister of Finance David Burt said, adding that a declining population increases the cost of living, an ageing population increases the cost of healthcare and a shrinking workforce puts future pensions at risk.

In delivering the 2022 Budget, Premier Burt said, “We have a demographic challenge in Bermuda, and that challenge will not magically resolve itself. It requires strong leadership to implement policies that address the issues while ensuring Bermudians benefit from economic progress.

“It is expected that last year will mark the fourth consecutive year that deaths exceeded births in Bermuda. The latest projections, based on recent statistics, state that 25% of our population is expected to be senior citizens by 2026.

Births and deaths per year 2000 to 2020 Bermuda chart bernews

“Additionally, residents have left Bermuda due to the economic challenges that we currently face, especially in our tourism industry with the closure of our largest hotel. Mr. Speaker, if we do not reverse these trends, it will lead to economic disaster for Bermuda.

“Population growth is not simply an option for Bermuda, it is a necessity for our survival. It is not possible for Bermuda’s economy to grow while our population declines and ages. A declining population in a small island state increases the cost of living. An ageing population increases the cost of healthcare.

“A shrinking workforce puts future pensions at risk. These trends must be reversed, our population and workforce must grow, and for that to happen we must create jobs through domestic or foreign investment.

“This growth of jobs does not mean that all persons need to be imported for the roles to be filled. If we do our job to make Bermuda a fairer place to live and work, there are Bermudians who will return. However, it is vital that we shift from the false choice of “is population growth good or bad” to a mindset of “growth is essential – how do we ensure that it benefits Bermudians who live in Bermuda.”

Estimated-Number-of-Work-Permits-Issued-for-Private-Sector-Employees-2011-2020

“Immigration policy may be controversial, but economic and demographic realities should not be. In a modern and globalised economy, where people do not need to live in Bermuda to work for Bermudian companies, and with an ageing populace and infrastructure, we will not fix the burning issues of high taxes, high cost of living and weak business demand without increasing the number of people that live and work in Bermuda.

“The other side to the economic argument for population growth is the desperate need for small businesses to survive and thrive. We see that small businesses in Bermuda are hurting and traditional local retail has been severely impacted by the pandemic.

“They welcome temporary assistance from the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation, but what every business owner wants, whether large or small, is more customers to whom they can sell their goods or services.

“If our economic pie does not expand, and our local entrepreneurs are fighting over the same 60,000 customers, there will be little collective growth. More jobs and a growing population leads to more opportunity for entrepreneurship, more opportunity for growth, and more opportunity for wealth creation.

Bermuda chart births and deaths 2000 to 2020 9491

“Economic Investment Certificates modified an existing policy to ensure it better benefited Bermudians. It changed the existing policy to require those who wished to reside in Bermuda to make investments that benefit residents, either through support for education, sporting clubs, charities, debt reduction, new businesses, real estate or other vital investments.

“This government knows and understands what is required to build the economy, but we also know that economic growth cannot leave Bermudians as spectators to success; jobs can be created through local investment as well. In 2019, I pledged that this Government would allow Bermudians to access their pension funds that are invested overseas to invest in local Bermudian companies.

“I made that pledge because I have faith that Bermudians can look at what they have, assess the risks and decide, if they wish, to make a bet on their future. If they are confident in their plans, they should be allowed to pledge a small portion of their pension savings to invest in starting a business or a business startup to further the Government’s goal of creating a nation of owners.

chart of bermuda birth rate 2000 to 2021

“Just as we have opened up avenues for additional foreign investment, we must make it easier for Bermudians to pool their resources and invest in their island. These changes will be implemented this year to increase domestic investment that will create jobs, and in turn, stabilise and eventually increase Bermuda’s population.

“Changing these demographic trends will not happen overnight, it will take time. And while there will be an economic boost this year with increased business from tourism, this Government recognises the challenges being faced by residents who need additional support and relief from Bermuda’s high cost of living now.”

In his initial response to the Budget, OBA Leader Cole Simons said, “Although he is stopping short of saying it, Premier Burt is finally admitting that in order for the island to thrive, immigration policies must change. The OBA has been calling for this since it’s inception. We need a minimum of 10,000 new residents to bolster our economy. There is no if ands or buts about it. We need bodies on this island.

“The interest payable per hour is approximately $15,000 an hour for Bermuda’s outstanding debt. 24 hours a day. Seven days a week. Each and every one of us in Bermuda is paying it back,” he added.

“The Government Actuaries have indicated that the public sector pension fund is due to be depleted by 2044,” he said. “If we stay on this trajectory, we see even more young Bermudians emigrating. Let’s do everything we can to keep them here and attract talented Bermudians back to the island. But Bermudians need to see and believe that they are returning to something that will offer them real opportunities.”

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Comments (31)

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  1. Stinky D. says:

    Where is Faye
    Pathways to Status

  2. Observer says:

    There is absolutely no way that Bermuda can solve this problem. The selfishness that exists throughout this community, both black and white, will never allow any new entrepreneurship desperately needed to change the mindset of a community that pulled up the ladder 50 years ago.

  3. Truth says:

    I would like for Curtis Dickinson, Paula Cox and Sir John Swan unite to lead our government.

    • Observer says:

      When EUGENE Cox retired as MoF due to illness, Bermuda owed 119 MILION dollars. Paula Cox took over and in the next 10 years our debt soared to 2.5 BILLION dollars. Are you sure you want her running (or further ruining) the country?????

  4. Question says:

    His highly imaginative response to this will be to increase taxes, which will reduce the population further.

  5. Ringmaster says:

    Has Premier Burt just realized this? I’m surprised he hasn’t blamed the OBA. There have been warnings for decades about the aging population, not just here but in many countries worldwide. It’s not something that can be corrected quickly and should have been tackled for at least 20 – 25 years as it was inevitable. Same with pensions. Another PLP created emergency due to wanting to win votes.

    • sandgrownan says:

      I’ll try again. WTF has Burt been doing? We’ve all know this for years. Years. All of us.

  6. sandgrownan says:

    “We “have a demographic challenge in Bermuda” and “if we do not reverse these trends, it will lead to economic disaster for Bermuda,” Premier and Minister of Finance David Burt said”

    Where the f*** has he been? Has he had his head up DREBs a** this long? We’ve all been saying this for years, all of us, economists, the IB community, lay people, Larry Burchall, Grant Gibbons, Bob Richards…we’ve ALL known this for years. We don’t need actuaries to tell us this – it’s simple maths.

  7. Unknown800k says:

    So egomeir, once again has to use the opposition’s ideas. We need more citizens
    Voters that dont think this guy is as intelligent as a bag of rocks most be benefiting.
    He has no ideas, still I’m opposition mode blaming the current opposition for everything
    Clueless all of them, notice the silence from his mps,, guess they’ll Do a bad job for a paycheck and ruin there island home

  8. Rica says:

    This island is no place to raise children/family. Cost of living is beyond madness. Poor education system, unreliable public transportation, over priced housing and a bag of groceries is exuberant. Bermuda is not an attractive place to reside. Just a limestone graveyard in the middle of nowhere.

  9. Jiminey Cricket says:

    Does anyone have a reasonable estimate of the current Bermuda population? I recall seeing, a day or so ago, Simons of OBA put out a proposed plan to increase the pop by 12000. If so that make me think we are down in 55000 range , and declining !!

    • Ringmaster says:

      Surely our Dept. of Statistics has this information to hand. After all it is a very important number to enable Government to plan and make policy. Wait, never mind ……. Unfortunately it seems that it becomes the same as the $64,000 question, but there is no way there are 64,000 people resident, the number generally loved and used by the Min of Health for example. I’d guess under 60,000, with a greater percentage employed by Government than at any time.

  10. Southampton says:

    Why do you think the population is declining? People are tired of paying the expensive prices on this island.
    Last night I ordered a 14″ pizza to be delivered. It cost me $43.00 not including the $5.00 tip I gave to the delivery man. That establishment has lost my business.
    Just like everything else in Bermuda. IT IS TOO EXPENSIVE TO LIVE HERE.

    • Sirjohnsyacoola says:

      I thought this current govt, was going to lower everything ..theyve done completely the opposite. Dreamers!
      Flip flop furbert didn’t look hungry tho

    • Have you been to New York says:

      Same price for a delivery pie

    • Truth says:

      Housing – rent or mortgage – is the killer, especially if you’re single.

      • Toodle-oo says:

        But isn’t a converted one car garage (without an assessment number) for $2000 a month supposed to be a bargain ?

    • Toodle-oo says:

      You got money for a luxury like takeout food ?
      I could feed myself a week’s worth of dinners for that amount .

  11. Our island (even though I love home) is doomed says:

    Bermuda has neglected and pushed out so many native families that it’s future (if it even has one) is doomed. Bermuda glorifies foreigners while ignoring indigenous men and women who fight to get Bermuda recognition. It welcomes cheap foreign labour despite the local job crisis. It is over for my home Bermy,, RIP

    • Question says:

      We all remember Burch clapping his hands with glee every time a company moved its operations, along with its jobs, elsewhere. And this is where it has lead us. Low population, high unemployment, high debt, high inflation, hotels closed, pension fund nearly bankrupt, and the Finance Minister resigns. Thanks a lot PLP.

  12. James says:

    What a surprise!

  13. Sean says:

    Hasn’t the PLP’s mantra for the past 25 years been, “Bermuda for Bermudians” (granted they defined and redefined the definition of Bermudian to fit their narrative at any particular time) and “Foreigners can go back to where they came from” (which they started to and now seeing the results of that)?

  14. Hermit says:

    Maybe y’all haven’t noticed but we live on an island with limited space. Population density is already insanely high. Growth is fundamentally unsustainable, at some point we need to find a way to have a functional, stable economy with a stable population.

    Relying on an increase in population is quite literally a pyramid scheme. The young at the bottom of the pyramid support the old at the top. How about we all start living more healthy lifestyles so that the young people don’t have to support the healthcare expenses of all those people who gave themselves diabetes with their forks.

  15. Fisherman says:

    EB suggested our Seniors move to Belize. With the money spent by PLP on Treaty’s with countries when EB was Leader, how did/does that help us then/now?

  16. Joe Bloggs says:

    “We “have a demographic challenge in Bermuda” and “if we do not reverse these trends, it will lead to economic disaster for Bermuda,” … a declining population increases the cost of living, an ageing population increases the cost of healthcare and a shrinking workforce puts future pensions at risk.”

    Perhaps the PLP Government should have thought about that in 2007 when it drove 5,000 odd high-paying jobs away from Bermuda

  17. I thought the PLP was going to operate a wholesale import company to compete
    with other wholesale firms and reduce the cost of goods.
    Not so easy to do when you look at the cost of running a business in Bermuda.

  18. Wake up says:

    If you relying on government to save you, you might as well kick yourself out your house, furthermore the decline in population have nothing to do with increase in cost of living. Inflation is the real issue. And schools still teaching the same bs. “Go school get a degree and a good job” high paying jobs, is being broke at a higher level if you not managing what it is you’ve been given. But thats another story something they probably never taught in that classroom.

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