Youth emigration causes brain drain

POSTED: 06/7/13 1:57 PM

St. Maarten – Analysis of St. Maarten’s demographics shows the need to bring in skilled personnel from other countries. Youth emigration causes brain drain, which creates the need to create incentive policies to retain young people. Immigration meanwhile causes various tensions at different levels, within society and in some cases cultural confrontations between people of different nationalities, the United Nations Children’s Fund Unicef writes in its report “The situation of children and adolescents in Sint Maarten.”

The report, available online from Unicef Nederland, states in its English version that St Maarten had a population of 55,309 per June 2012. Between 2008 and 2010 the population increased by 2,100. The report furthermore notes that “there are many undocumented immigrants as well as births to immigrant parents whose children have not been registered.”

The demographics have changed dramatically over the past couple of years due to immigration and emigration. The report notes “a tendency towards emigration among young people between 15 and 29 years old and immigration or remigration of people between 40 and 44.

St. Maarten’s young population (0-19 years) totaled 11,529 in 2011. The bulk of this group however is between 10 and 14 years, “due to the high rates of emigration among young people.”

According to the 2001 census, 63 percent of all inhabitants had been born outside of St. Maarten. Ten years later that percentage jumped to 70 percent divided over 188 different countries of origin. “The highest percentages come from the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica and Guyana.  This growing number of immigrants affects all areas of society and influences the situation of children and adolescents,” the report states.

Over the years immigration has outpaced emigration by a factor varying from three to almost five. In 2004 for instance, 770 people emigrated and 2,277 immigrated. In 2008, immigration was down to 1,723, while emigration had climbed to 881. But two years later when emigration leveled off at 848, immigration exploded to 3,872.

The report states that these developments are “central to changes in the population: the main destination countries are the Netherlands, Aruba and the United States. Young people seek to study abroad to get an education they qualify as superior to that available locally and they often do not return.”



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