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This article was published more than one month ago. The information may no longer be relevant or up to date.

Draft Barbados Population Commission report published

March 5, 2023

February 27, 2023

In 2019, the Barbados government established a National Population Commission to develop a set of policy recommendations to address the declining and ageing population of Barbados. A draft of the policy has now been published by the Commission.

Barbadians and residents, and non-nationals with connections to Barbados, are encouraged to read the draft policy and submit comments to the Commission by e-mail: The deadline for submissions is March 31st, 2023.

The draft policy outlines specific actions that can help to address the declining and ageing population, without which Barbados is likely to face a population crisis within the next 30 years. The main threats facing Barbados in this regard are the consequential decreases in the workforce; unsustainablity should the number of persons requiring care constitute a majority of the population; and declines in government revenues as the number of taxpayers continue to shrink.

Some of the high level actions mentioned in the draft report are explained below. However, please note that the report has not been formally approved by the Government of Barbados and should not be construed as official policy unless and until it is formally accepted by the Cabinet. A decision will not be made by the Cabinet until the end of public consultations.

Retain and encourage repatriation of Barbadians in the diaspora

While there are a diverse number of reasons that inform a person's decision to leave or remain, some measures were identified by the Commission that can facilitate the decision making of Barbadians to repatriate, such as—

  • job opportunities;
  • accommodation and housing;
  • reduced bureaucracy to establish new businesses in Barbados;
  • integration support, including access to employment information and investment opportunities; and
  • continuity of the Barbados Network Programme (e.g. tax-free importation of vehicles and other belongings).

The report also went into some detail about an emerging concept known as "partial repatriation", which draws from the lessons of the Welcome Stamp visa programme, introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic. Barbadians abroad could continue to maintain connections with their migratory country but also benefit from closer association with their home country.

Barbadians in the diaspora that do not wish to fully repatriate can be encouraged to take advantage of Barbados as their co-location for work and life, that can uniquely complement what their migratory country offers. This is particularly relevant in today's digital world in which more people than ever before are working remotely.

Some measures identified by the Commission that could facilitate partial repatriation include—

  • affordable housing;
  • tax incentives, such as duty-free concessions or VAT exemptions for specified periods; and
  • establishment and marketing of links between the diaspora community and
    professional institutions for volunteering and participation.

Develop a family policy that supports reproductive decision making

In 1980, the fertility rate was 2.1. Had Barbados maintained this rate, the population size would be around 360,000 today and would have been expected to rise to just under 400,000 by 2050. The actual size of the population today is approximately 280,000.

The Commission recommended that Barbados should seek to grow its population by around 185,000 by 2050. While this target cannot be achieved without high levels of controlled migration, a pro-natal policy is seen as one of the pillars to increasing the population size.

Some actions that may encourage reproductive decision making include—

  • measures pertaining to shared parental leave;
  • provisions for longer periods of maternity leave;
  • establishing rights of fathers to take paternity leave;
  • offering tax concessions for families with dependent children; and
  • promotion of flexible working arrangements, such as working remotely.

Expand the categories of persons entitled to citizenship and permanent residency

Draft legislation under review seeks to expand the category of persons to whom citizenship may be conferred to include—

  • a person to whom immigrant status was conferred, if they have been an immigrant for a period exceeding three years;
  • a person born outside Barbados with a grandparent or great-grandparent who is, or was, a citizen of Barbados (whether by birth, descent, registration or otherwise);
  • a person to whom permanent residency was conferred, having resided in Barbados for at least three years during the past six years immediately preceding the date of application for citizenship;
  • a person (and their spouse/dependents) being citizens of the Caribbean Community, having resided in Barbados for at least five years immediately preceding the date of application for citizenship; and
  • a person (and their spouse/dependents), who not being citizens of the Caribbean Community, having resided in Barbados for at least six years immediately preceding the date of application for citizenship.

The legislation also proposes to expand the pathways to permanent residency to include—

  • a child of a person who is a permanent resident, where that child is residing in Barbados; and
  • a person who by reason of their age, education, experience, financial resources and skills (not being a citizen or permanent resident) can establish themselves economically in Barbados.
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