Barbados Approach To Immigration And Aging Population “Haphazard”

Our Government’s Strategy For The Future – “Monkeys Playing With Shotguns” 

“Professor Michael Howard has smoked his former student Clyde Mascoll into the open to defend his ridiculous assertion that Barbados’ growing population should not be of concern to Barbadians. He ends his note to the Nation newspaper of 29 August 2007 by writing “I believe that Barbados has not yet reach its optimum population because it has certainly not yet reached its optimum level of economic production.” It seems silly that the country should have to subject itself to Mascoll accusing Howard of defending a hypothesis “Has Barbados reached its optimum population?” when by his own admission he is operating on a belief. Mascoll where are your results from your hypothesis testing to support your claim that we need a larger population?”

“The last time we checked, the servants of the people (Government of Barbados) had not seen it necessary to make public any policy position regarding strategies to grow our ageing population. At this eleventh hour Barbadians are being criticized for our concerns by a politician who has not worked for any major company in Barbados or abroad one single day in his life. When we examine the architects of economic policy in many of the developed countries their bios list significant appointments in the private sector before being lured to the public sector. Forgive us Mr. Mascoll if we don’t have the confidence in your unsupported analysis that we need to grow our population through the adoption of any secret policy. We declare upfront that positive correlations should complement any increase activity and population growth. We disagree with Mascoll on the haphazard approach to our immigration policy which we have no doubt will lead to social dysfunction.”

Read the excellent article by David at Barbados Underground. (link here)


Filed under Barbados, Politics

27 responses to “Barbados Approach To Immigration And Aging Population “Haphazard”

  1. Jerome Hinds

    Clyde Asscoll is just that… * SS !

    What manner of MAN would condemn the policies of an Administration (BLP ) to the HILT…….then seeing no changes in the policies of the same administration (BLP )…..join that same administration (BLP ) and DECLARES….. ” I feel good over on this side ” !


    Today the the BLP has not dealt with the issue of :

    ** GREENLAND !

    ** UDC !

    ** No Audited accounts for GEMS !

    ** Proceeds from the sale of Eastry House !

    ** Financial reports for CBC !

    ** A burgeoning National Debt !

    All the things Asscoll RANTED & RAVED about !

    Yet……MEALY – MOUTH…….ASSCOLL wishes us to BELIEVE that he ” feels good over on the other side ” !

    A political MULE !

  2. It does not take a doctorate in Demographic Economy to see that Barbados has an increasingly unsupportable preponderance of elderly, retired persons no longer contributing to the NIS pool with employment deductions. The only tax they are sure to pay is VAT.

    It follows from this that there is a need for more persons to contribute to the NIS to support Government in maintaining its lavish expenditure.

    But this does not mean more wage earners are needed from abroad, immigrants from other islands.

    Nor does it mean that there should be a Population Surge in the form of more children. They are a great expense to the country for the 18-25 years it takes before they become contributing taxpayers.

    What it means for sure is that Government (present and future) has a very real problem facing it to make ends meet.

    The first thing to be done in such circumstances is to avoid all needless expenditure such as CWC extravagance. Whether flyovers are “necessary expenditure” is also questionable when you are tightening your belt.

    What the optimum population for our island is can be argued ad nauseum, but it is the PROFILE of our population which holds the key.

    ZPG (Zero Population Growth) has been extolled as the best way to keep our standard of living constant, and the country free from bursting at the seams with NHA developments lining our East Coast one of these days.

    Sir Roy has thrown down the gauntlet at O$A’s feet that he will pass proposed legislation at his peril and that Sir Roy will call out his troops in a National Strike if O$A goes ahead.

    Sir Roy is right to force O$A and his henchmen and women to declare precisely what their policy is to sustain Barbados’ development. It is vital for our future to support efforts not to let Arthur in Nero’s clothes, fiddle away our resources, let alone enable other islands to share our wealth, while the question of Demographic Policy remains unanswered.

  3. PiedPiper

    Pandora, by far one of the best posts I have ever seen in BFP.
    That said, I am also curious to know what the curriculum vitae is of most of those currently in positions of power in Bim. Even if you were to overlook their unmitigated greed and corruption, excercised in order to top up their own bank accounts, I seriously have to wonder what education and training they have had in order to address and deal effectively with the changing landscape and demography of Barbados.
    If Barbados is to find a balance between sustaining a way of life that makes Barbados unique and yet still bringing it into the 21st century it will take more foresight and intelligence than the current regime has.

  4. Yardbroom

    Barbados has no long term plan, we seem to be lurching from crisis to crisis. Whilst it is true that in the short term, an inflow of young immigrants will be beneficial in terms of NIS contributions and employment deductions, this works best in countries where there is almost full employment, this is not the case in Barbados.

    The Government seems to have accepted a policy of permanent unemployment for young people, and have therefore not factored into their long term objectives, a policy of sustainable employment for the young.

    There is no reason to look for immigrants, with the excuse being NIS contributions, the focus should be employing young Barbadians. This situation will get worse as people live longer, longevity will not be matched by adequate Health Support Agencies, therefore disaster,

    A firm grip needs to be kept on Public Expenditure, as we can only afford large scale projects that are absolutely necessary. We are not in a financial position to do things to impress, only those which are of top priority. Unless a prudent grip is kept on public expenditure, and detailed strategic plans are in place as to the direction we are going, we will be living in hope, not good enough for a Country.

  5. Pied Piper- The only training and education politicians and their appointees need is knowing the right people and assuring them of their blind loyalty, however stupid the policy decided. (viz. Greenland)

    Blind loyalty includes turning a blind Nelson’s eye to payoffs, commissions, consultant fees etc. no doubt in the hope you will be in the receiving line one day.

    Smart politicians are supposed to employ seasoned experts to decide sensible policy for them, but this is something our politicians appear yet to learn. Possibly this is because seasoned experts are likely to be persons of integrity.

  6. Anonymous

    im wondering if any of yall who posted above r trained economist ??????????????

  7. YUM YUM I like it!

    Worrying that an academic such as Clyde Mascoll should use Singapore for comparative analysis, when deciding policies for Bim. I am no brain box, but this sounds just plain daft!

    I’ve been to Singapore 3 times and it is NOTHING like here. BU gave some differences above, but there are so many more as would be impossible to list or really quantify! In fact the only things which ARE similar are the size and the fact that they are both islands (in fact Singapore is accessible by road from mainland Malaysia and there are ferries to all sorts of places, such as Sumatra etc….)

    To me CONTROLLED population growth has to be a good thing. This would entail having a list of policies which would look far into the future.

    For instance, if Bim lacks specialists any particular area, we should not only look to recruit them from abroad, but also seek to train our own.

    Care would have to be taken with the age demographic also, as topping up the population with a sudden surge in births would put strain on the schools system and be very costly, especially in the light of the state burden (in a nice way) of a growing number of over 60’s.

    Perhaps we should adopt immigration policies like the Australians, who encourage immigrants to settle who have required or essential skills. This would help to bolster the skilled, tax paying work-force.

    There are a lot of things to think about, however INACTION IS NOT AN OPTION!

    I liken Clyde Mascoll performance to medical specialist, who after many visits ($$$$), many examinations ($$), scans ($$$), blood-tests ($) etc …comes out with a diagnosis. ” We now know what it is you are suffering from, its *&%^$£”itis. You don’t need any treatment it will just get better on its own.”


    Frustrating, but just maybe its true?!

  8. Anonymous

    i didnt realise we have so many people in barbados traines in economics …..any of you who posted above do any of you have a degree in economics if so show us if not shut up ???? i already asked this question if you r not trained in something then u have no standing on which to make stupid comments like yardbrooms comment

  9. YUM YUM I like it

    Anonymous (most recent of the commentators without even the imagination to come up with an alias – actually some of the international blogs do not allow ‘anonymous’ and moderators will assign a name according to the content of the comment – perhaps this guy could be called MUGABE )

    You speak plain nonsense sir!

    So you now need a degree in Economics to comment about the economy. This is indeed a very dangerous message to be spreading!

    Is it not just possible that the ordinary man in the street might know better than the expert, who cannot see the wood for the trees!?

    University can educate the common sense out of a man you know! I know, I’ve been there and I have none!

  10. rasta man

    Why would anyone in their right mind listen to
    M-ass -coll.
    Barbados Constitution needs to be changed.
    (1)Persons who cross the floor should have to face re election
    (2) A Prime Minister should only be allowed a maximum of 2 terms in office even if his party wins the election

  11. Yardbroom

    I have a degree and have taught others to do the same, but a degree on its own does not signify the ability to manage a country’s economy properly, if that were so we would not be in the mess we are in.

    The idea that a degree on its own qualifies one to do something well is silly, one has to bring a variety of skills and knowledge to the table.

    Which part of my comment is silly:
    (1) There is large unemployment in Barbados.
    (2) People are living longer.
    (3) Work should be sought for Barbadians before immigrants.
    (4) There seems to be no plan for sustainable employment for young people, eg Strip mowers given- go and cut grass.
    (5) Health support inadequate eg.Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
    (6) Waste in Public Expenditure eg World up fiasco, Prison overruns was it US or Barbados dollars? the list seems endless.

    Which of the above are untrue?

  12. Yardbroom- Please don’t let Anonymous jerk you around. You have proved countless times how literate and rational you are, unlike A who has shown himself to be the opposite on a daily basis.

    Too many people think the letters of a degree after a name mean intellectual ability whereas it is usually nose-to-the-grindstone slogging.

    Poor A apparently suffers from an inferiority complex that he did not get the education he would have liked, and has a knee-jerk awe for those who do. He is better just ignored.

  13. YUM YUM I like it

    Regardless of the population, which is only controllable to a certain degree, the single biggest factor controlling the success of the economy here is tourism.

    It is IMPERATIVE that our government (even those without degrees in economics) builds an effective strategy for tourism. Without successfully maximising the yield from tourism this economy is doomed.

    At the moment (never mind immigration and the aging population) the tourism strategy is haphazard and bumbling!

  14. Anonymous

    yardbroom # 1 is untrue #4 is untrue #5 is worst than untrue its is an absolute lie # 6 is also untrue and nonsense only 2 and 3 r true so maybe ur go check yer head cause ur stupid and foolish just like your comments

  15. Anonymous

    further if u have a degree or training show us if not shut up

  16. Hants

    Yardbroom to add to what you have written above,
    Barbados should be striving to create a better life for the existing population.

    Importing labour when you have so many young people on the block makes no sense.

    A lot of the young men on the block should be in a training or apprenticeship program. Giving them weed whackers to cut grass while importing foreigners to work in construction makes no sense in a small overcrowded Island like Barbados.

    Barbados already has a Water scarcity problem.

    I hope Sewage treatment and disposal is monitored and planned for the apparent steadily increasing population.

  17. Hants

    The Government should consider giving overseas scholarships to some of the young people who cannot get places at the SJPP, BCC or UWI.

    There are lots of colleges teaching construction and related trades outside of Barbados.

    $1o0 million was sent out of Barbados by foreigners working and living in Barbados.
    Replacing some of them with some of our own people would reduce the outflow.

  18. J. Payne

    Mascoll better come up with a plan otherwise Barbados is going to turn into a withered grape still on vine…

    Canada and other countries are throwing open their whole economy to more immigrants because their population is aging. Mascoll can sit there, but he need to understand the Brain-drain is going to get worst unless Barbadian companies raise wages fast… It is a serious issue to have most of your pop. aging.

    See actual text from the Canadian government on the developed world and the need to quickly increase immigration in all those countries.


    Behind the interest in Canada as a migrant destination is the increasing worldwide mobility of people. It has been estimated that about 150 million people are on the move at any given time. Some flee persecution, civil strife, or severe political or economic upheaval; others are forced to leave as a result of natural disasters or environmental degradation; still others move primarily to seek a better way of life for themselves and their families. In short, migration as an aspect of globalization is accelerating. If it wishes to maximize the benefits of this movement, Canada cannot afford to stand still. We must proactively plan for the future.

    The key to sustaining a robust immigration program hinges on striking the right balance between maximizing the benefits of immigration, such as economic growth and social development, and sustaining public confidence in the system by ensuring, through effective enforcement, that its generosity is not abused. Canada is not alone in facing increased pressures from irregular migration, including human trafficking and smuggling.

    Currently, Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand are the only countries that encourage and plan for immigration. However, greater international economic integration and competition, ageing work forces and declining birth rates are leading countries of the European Union and Japan to reconsider their approach to the planned admission of foreign workers. It is anticipated that in the future, Canada will face serious competition in recruiting the highly skilled as most developed countries struggle with skill shortages and the effects of an ageing population.
    [ . . . ]
    Like other industrialized countries, Canada faces demographic challenges. Birth rates are at a historic low, and Canada’s largest age cohort—the baby boomers—is ageing. While immigration cannot significantly change the resulting age structure of the population, it is an important tool to mitigate its effects. Immigration will likely account for all net labour force growth by 2011, and projections indicate it will account for total population growth by 2031. For these reasons, ensuring that immigrants and refugees have the skills to succeed in the labour market is key to Canada’s future prosperity. Equally, policies designed to attract significant numbers of highly skilled workers will give Canada economic and sociocultural advantages in the new global economy.
    [ . . . ]
    It is generally recognized that while immigration is critical to building our economy and society, it is not without challenges, specifically with regard to ensuring that adequate supports are in place to facilitate social and economic integration. Challenges include the recognition of foreign credentials, combating discrimination and finding ways to more evenly distribute the benefits of immigration across the country. In 2000, 90 percent of immigrants chose to live in Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec; nearly 75 percent settled in Toronto, Vancouver and Montréal, an increase of five percentage points in the past decade. To date, efforts to encourage immigrants to settle in smaller urban centres have met with limited success. It will be important to further explore how to attract immigrants to smaller centres and persuade them to stay there in order to reduce the pressures on Canada’s largest cities.

    Canada’s immigration program provides a significant level of support for settlement and integration services. Its citizenship program offers newcomers the opportunity to obtain Canadian citizenship following a three-year residency period.[ . . . ]

    I think I trust the technocrats in the developed world on this one than Mascoll.

  19. Yardbroom

    I will take your word for it.

    (1) There is no unemployment among young people, that would cause a responsible Government concern in Barbados.

    (4) There is a sustainable employment plan for the young people of Barbados, but three million dollars will just be thrown in to cut grass.

    (5) The Barbados Population is satisfied with the level of expenditure allocated to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for equipment etc , and is satisfied with treatment there.( Hard pressed staff can do only so much.)

    (6) Accounts demonstrate a good return for money invested in the Cricket World Cup, and the Barbados population consider the large sums well spent.

    On the matter of “shut up ” although that might please you, it will not happen.

    As regards a degree or otherwise, – it seems more important to you than it is to me – you will have to take my word for it.

    I will not engage further in this matter, it is at an end.

  20. Citizen First

    In considering the demographic issues of Barbados, I would appreciate some critique on the following observation.

    In 1990 the population of Barbados was 260,500, by 2007 the estimated population is 280,946. This represesents an increase of 7.8%.

    Now in 1990, secondary school enrollment was 23,381 and in 2006, the secondary school enrollment was 21,753. This represents a decrease of 7%.

    So while our overall population is growing, the number of young people is decreasing. This situation can only be explained by migrant flow into Barbados which seems to have taking place at increasing levels since 1990. Actuarial studies done about 7 years ago indicated a fecundacy rate barely above that to maintain the population level.

    It would thus appear that for Barbados to just maintain present levels of economic output, we have to employ a mix of four strategies (i) reduce per capita levels of consumption (ii) increase productivity levels (iii) allow migration into the country and (iv) increase our birth rate.

  21. Citizen First-

    You pose an interesting exercise, which I fear is too simplistic as it stands to be a basis for real policy formulation.

    We need much greater detail of the percentage in each age group to forecast economic output, for starters.

    But let us postulate some alternatives which could highlight possible forks in the road for our future.

    1. A flu epidemic (SARS) hits Barbados and half our elderly are wiped out. The population drops from 280,000 to 240,000 in the space of 6 months.

    2. Funeral and flower businesses boom, there are 25,000 less cars on the roads moving at 30 kph so traffic congestion is dramatically reduced. Government decides the flyovers are no longer needed and saves $400myn all of which give a shot in the arm to the economy.

    3. With all the housing vacated by the elderly, families of child bearing age move in to more spacious quarters, and realise they have room for two more children.

    4. The non-African elements of our society from other parts of the Caricom community are already breeding at twice the pace of the others, so that combined with Item 3, there is a jump in national fecundity rate to 5% p.a. They bring in all their family and our demographic profile becomes more cosmopolitan.

    5. Castro dies, the Miami Cubans move back in to Cuba and open up villa developments at bargain prices which knocks the bottom out of our villa and condominium market.

    6. There are major gas finds offshore and we have so much energy to spare that we don’t need to grow sugar for ethanol or its bagasse to burn to produce power. Our sugar acreage is reduced by half, and the land “saved” from this is used to raise feedgrains for pigs and poultry. Also more golf courses.

    7. Government meets its targets to send 75% of secondary school students to Cave Hill resulting in a dramatic increase in graduands with university degrees. Jobs are created in the civil service for them by creating new ministries as they are unqualified for lowly work in the productive sector.

    8. The Trinidad conglomerate which buys BS&T decides regretfully it is more cost-effective under CSME to run operations from Trinidad and close down most of the Barbados operation. The Bim shareholders are delighted as their dividends double; those who are out a job become suicidal which further assists the funeral and flower businesses.

    9. The result of these impacts on our economy is that the Governor of the Central Bank decides we should adopt the Trinidad & Tobago dollar as our national currency as it should be cheaper to pay unemployment and civil service salaries that way.

    10. Sir Roy calls out the unions successfully to pressure Government into meeting the latest wage demands, even though there is no prospect of meeting them except by borrowing from World Bank.

    With imponderables like these looming before us, it is a little tricky to decide on the best economic policy. But I am sure there are many academic wiseacres who will easily concoct credible solutions.

    (For goodness sake don’t take this seriously. But it may be food for constructive thought 🙂 )

  22. Citizen First


    It is often best to keep things simple. Getting relevant information in Barbados is like chinese arithmetic -hard to come by, especially if you are like me, an invisible person.

    Your scenarios do not contribute anything to my understanding of what may lie ahead – I did not take any of them seriously. I consider the demographic issue to be the fundamental socio-economic issue facing Barbados. The present Government has acknowledged the problem but beyond adjustment to the NIS has not addressed (at least not openly to the populace) the many other possible ramifications. Mr Mascoll’s recent comments have at least precipitated this debate.

    In your first post on this thread, reference was made to the “profile” of our population as holding the key, some explanation as to what you mean would be useful.

  23. Citizen First

    by the way thanks for the correction – the correct word is fecundity not “fecundacy”.

  24. Citizen First-

    Taking the easiest of the points you raise first, a demography profile is the graphed cross section of the various age groups of a community, best known in the form of a bell curve, although populations are never in bell curve shape.

    The Baby Boomer generation is the best example of a distorted profile caused by the rise in birthrate after the troops returned from WWII in the U.S.A.

    A distorted profile can also arise from the high death rate of an age group such as happens during a war e.g. in Paraguay after their war against the combined forces of their neighbours when a majority of men of fighting (and procreating age) died, leaving, they say, ten women for each man.

    Once the percentage of persons in each age group is known one can predict with a fair degree of accuracy the “cash flow forecast” of the community. Thus the social security payment problem on the U.S. horizon will meet a peak after
    Baby Boomers retire, then go back to normal when they start dying off.

    But I feel sure you know all this. A profile is merely a graphic presentation of the age groups. It would be easy to show such a profile on a blackboard (assuming we had the figures).

    Because so many people live to such a ripe old age here in Barbados, we are faced with an increasing bulge of elderly receiving old age pensions, medical benefits etc. and contributing very little to the national coffers in return. We all know this.

    I chose facetiously some (unlikely) factors which would skew the predictions from a normal flow chart not because I wanted to be flippant about the question, but because it illustrates why Government finds it hard to arrive at a clear-cut policy, and guesses wildly instead.

    It would be tedious of me to hypothesise on the most likely scenarios. Economists will gladly do it because they are paid to be tedious. (If I were paid enough I would not mind being tedious, but I doubt I could be paid enough to want to be an economist).

    Computer models are contrived by academics to “prove” the points they are trying to make. After they are proved wrong they will readily find all the excuses as to why. Life is too short, for me at least, to get into that sort of dance.

    About all that is clear is that the present government is spending way beyond reason on areas which contribute nothing to our future development. This is, of course, highly irresponsible, but typical of politicians for whom the only factor of importance in their mind is the next election.

  25. Economics is (originally) the inverted political ideology, philosophy and psychology of the Caucasian people, and has been unceasingly and overwhelmingly used by esp. “elite” Caucasian people to assist in the untold political exploitation and oppression of the”lesser” Caucasian people and almost all non-Caucasian peoples of this world, while at the same time it has been cruelly used by them to help ensure that they accumulate and concentrate great amounts of wealth, income, honor and prestige, far greater than those persons they exploit and oppress. This definition being given, it must be realized that the debate in the Barbados media between Professor Michael Howard, Mr. Clyde Mascoll and some others, concerning whether or not Barbados should have a greater population than now (at any time presumably) vis-a-vis Barbados’ current level of national and economic development, and, by extension, for Howard mainly, Barbados’ current level of ecological development, must really be seen as a debate that is comprehensively useless and misplaced when one considers that politically and imperialistically it is the “elite” Caucasian people that seriously continue to control the trade, wealth, income, consumption, technological, military, ideological, demographic and other important dimensions of global society.

    By seriously controlling those above dimensions these people are able to substantially control our populations whether directly or indirectly, just as much as they are able to control theirs. Just look at who introduced Western family planning methods to our Barbadian and English-speaking Caribbbean peoples, in colonial days!! And, as many Barbadians strongly believe, just look at who has developed the HIV/AIDS virus to severely reduce, in the long term, non-Caucasian populations. Whereas, they have got substantial control over our Caribbean populations and their growth rates, we have got far substantially less control over our populations and their growth rates( excluding our own the capacity to die)

    Therefore, to argue that Barbados has NOT yet reached its optimum population because it has certainly not yet reached its optimum level of economic production ( Mascoll’s argument) is a very regressive, naive and feeble argument given that Barbados, in the context of such a Western Caucasian-dominated exploitative global system – WILL NEVER be able to achieve some optimum population (see what this is in Howard’s contribution in the Nation, Tuesday, August 21, 2007) – just look at the negative and unbalancing factors (economics included ) affecting Barbados’ natural population growth rate, which is very meager, and WILL NEVER be able to achieve optimum economic production – just observe the very dear price Barbados has been made to pay as part of this system – esp. with this ossie moore BLP Government in office – A massive National Debt; a staggering high cost of living; hundreds upon hundreds of our precious lands in the hands of foreigners; these things and more which in turn are helping to create great social tension and disharmony in Barbados.

    And, to argue that rapid population growth compromises the carrying capacity (see Howard’s contribution again in the said Nation issue ) of a small country in terms of water and energy use, and raises the cost of providing these services (Howard’s argument) is a totally cast-iron, misleading and erroneous assertion, given that it is within our capacity to control the internal price factor of such resources and services. By a PDC Government, et al, Abolishing Taxation; Abolishing Interest Rates and Motor Vehicle Insurance and ALL Exchange Rates Parities with the Barbados Dollar; Making sure that no foreigners own our lands, and making Imports into the country zero-priced at ALL points of entry; making sure that economics is totally deemphasized in Barbados, shall surely mean that the cost of living and doing business shall substantially be reduced and the worst controlling effects upon Barbados of this western system mitigated!!

  26. YUM YUM I like it!


    Zimbabwe has the highest inflation in the world at 7500%

    Your model for the economy (sorry if that word is too Caucasian for you!) could rival this AND SOME MORE!!!

    Why don’t you just spit it out – you don’t like white people!?

    Bitterness and anger does not a political party make!

  27. Business Owner

    I own a business. Over the past four years as I have advertised and vacancies and interviewed prospective staff, I have come encountered approximately 10 citizens of Guyana. One single was here in Bim legally.

    Do the maths!

    Days of the dead voting are no longer needed clearly.!