01.01.05. Ageing and life expectancy | Jamaica

01.01.05. Ageing and life expectancy | Jamaica

23 Sep 2022

The population aged 60 years and over continues to grow. Within this group, there has been an increase from approximately 5.6 per cent in 1970 to 7.7 per cent in 2004 and it is projected to account for 18 per cent of the total population by 2050, which is close to the current size of the under 16 population (STATIN, 2017).

In 2017, it was estimated that 12.4% of Jamaica’s population were aged 60 and older (STATIN, 2017). As it is the case in most ageing societies, older women in Jamaica tend to live longer than their male counterparts (Eldemire-Shearer, 2008). More specifically, between 1995 and 2005, the growth rate of the female population, 65 years or older, was more than double that of males in this age group (UNFPA & HAI, 2011).

Furthermore, between 2013 and 2017, the number of women aged 75 and over outnumbered men aged 75 and over by an average of 25.6% (STATIN, 2017). It is also notable that the largest growth rate among older persons occurred among the 80+ group (Eldemire-Shearer et al., 2012; Eldemire-Shearer, 2008). This is in part due to increases in population life expectancy at birth, which in 2018 was estimated at 74.5 years for the total population- with a lower life expectancy for men (72.7 years) than women (76.5 years). It is therefore evident that Jamaica’s population is ageing and is experiencing an increase in the population of older women.

Total dependency ratio:

Ageing societies are often encouraged to pay attention to their dependency ratios, in order to monitor the potential economic impact of changing age and sex population structures. As of 2018, Jamaica recorded a total dependency ratio (persons younger than 15 or older than 64 compared to the working-age population, 15-64) of 48.25 % (The World Bank, 2019). This represents a minimal decrease from 2015, where the total dependency ratio was estimated at 48.7% (CIA, 2019).

Age dependency ratio:

In contrast, older persons dependency ratio  has steadily increased from approximately 13.1 (2010) to 13.8 (2015) as compared to the decrease in the youth dependency ratio of 41.7% (2010) to 34.9 (2015) (CIA, 2019).


CIA. (2019). Central America: Jamaica — The World Factbook. https://www.cia.gov/the-world-factbook/countries/jamaica/

Eldemire-Shearer, D. (2008). Ageing: The Response Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. Pp. 577–588.

Eldemire-Shearer, D., James, K., Waldron, N., Mitchell-Fearon, K. (2012). Older Persons in Jamaica. Available from: https://www.mona.uwi.edu/commhealth/sites/default/files/commhealth/uploads/EXECUTIVE%20SUMMARY.pdf

Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN). (2017). Total Population by Broad Age Groups and Parish, 2011. https://statinja.gov.jm/Census/PopCensus/TotalPopulationbyBroadAgeGroupsandParish.aspx

The World Bank. (2019). Jamaica. Available from: https://data.worldbank.org/country/jamaica

UNFPA and HelpAge International. (2011). Desk review: the situation of older persons in Jamaica (Issue July). https://caribbean.unfpa.org/sites/default/files/pub-pdf/Finalized_TheSitOlderPersonsInJamaica_UNFPA_030811-2_0.pdf.