Informacion economica sobre Cuba

Cuba, An Island of the Aged / Ivan Garcia

Posted on April 6, 2013

The statistics are troubling. For more than thirty years the average

Cuban woman has given birth to less than one daughter during her entire

reproductive life. A population that does not regenerate gets old. And

decreases. This means that in absolute terms Cuba has begun to lose


There was a report issued by the National Office of Statistics in 2011

which notes that the cumulative age of the country's three strongmen –

Fidel Castro, his brother Raúl and José Machado Ventura – is 250 years.

More dramatically, more than twenty thousand people between the ages of

10 and 45 emigrate each year. One of the government's solutions to

counteract the aging and decline of the population has been to raise the

retirement age to 60 for women and 65 for men.

A pension in Cuba – between 150 and 300 pesos (6 to 12 dollars) — barely

covers even 25% of a retiree's basic needs. If a citizen hopes to have

breakfast and two decent meals a day, he will need at least 2,600 pesos

(100 dollars) a month.

Added to this is the serious housing problem. Some 62% of homes in Cuba

are in a fair to poor state of repair. Three or four generations must

live together under the same roof. When more space is needed, it is

often the aged person who is displaced. The best option is for

grandparents to live with their grandchildren. The worst is for families

to send them to some decrepit state institution.

With its lack of sanitation, poor treatment and even worse food, death's

worst waiting room is a state-run hospice.

By 2012 more people were dying than were being born in the country. The

weak economy does not guarantee a comfortable life for the two million

people over the age of sixty. Today the median age is 38 years. By 2025

it will rise to 44 and almost 26% of the population will be over the age

of 60. By 2030 more than 3.3 million people will 60 or older.

Currently, the percentage of Cubans over the age of 60 is 17.8%. The

segment of the population 14 years or younger is 17.3%. The ideal

solution would be to adopt policies that encourage women to have two or

more children.

European countries with a welfare state pay a stipend to mothers who

have more than one child, but public funds for this in Cuba are minimal.

Since Raúl Castro inherited power from his brother, the number of

construction projects that do not turn a profit, such as social service

and leisure facilities, has declined to almost zero. Investments are

made only in buildings that generate hard currency, like those in the

tourism industry, or which are strategically important, such as

petrochemical plants and waterworks projects in the eastern region.

We should not have to wait for a session of the one-note national

legislature to announce financial incentives to encourage women to have

more than one child. Otherwise, Cuba's accelerated aging problem will be

an issue that a future government will have to address.

Life dictates that by 2025 the Castros will be either resting in some

mausoleum or will be two very sickly old men nearing the century mark.

In addition to encouraging spectacular economic growth, the next

president will also have to renegotiate the country's external debt and

try to create a coherent, inclusive and democratic society

All such efforts will have to be taken up with an aging human capital. A

growing segment of women, both professional and non-professionals, are

postponing starting families due to material shortages. Convincing them

that Cuba needs to rejuvenate itself by increasing the number of girls

will be a vital task.

It is yet to be seen if within ten years leaving for Florida will still

be the chief priority for many Cubans. We hope not. Otherwise, if you

are the last one to leave, please turn out the light in El Morro.*

Iván García

Photo from 100 Photos of the Older Generation

*Translator's note: The iconic lighthouse at the Morro fortress

overlooks the Havana harbor.

2 April 2013

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