These days we hear plenty of alarm bells about endangered species, but it’s not every day we’re warned of the impending extinction of an entire nationality. According to a new demographic report, this may actually be the case for Cuba. The independent research group Foresight Cuba has published an extensive report detailing a number of demographic projections for the island based on data compiled from 1900 up through Cuba’s most recent census, and the findings aren’t very reassuring.
Using the Foresight methodology adopted by the UN and a number of important global NGOs, Foresight Cuba determined that Cuba’s birth and mortality rates have been trending toward toward parity since the fall of the Soviet Bloc, and predicted more deaths than births on the island by 2022. Combined with a steady outward migration from the island, this spells a dismal demographic future for the nation of 11 million, with some Foresight projections pegging the 2100 population at under 4 million.
Of course, any number of unforeseen factors could render these projections irrelevant, and with the rapid changes currently taking place on the island we can only hope that’s the case. The study’s authors clearly take issue with many of the Cuban government’s revolutionary policies — and at times veer off into straight-up editorializing — but the report ultimately seeks to influence sensible reforms geared toward a new model of sustainable development on the island.
Aside from the report’s population projections and somewhat alarmist references to the “extinction of the Cuban people,” Foresight Cuba also provides a treasure trove of data collected from Cuba’s National Office of Statistics (ONEI) that gives insight into everything from Cuba’s increasingly elderly population to the country’s unusually high suicide rate. Statistics nerds should have a ball digging through the wealth of interactive charts and graphs designed by LA-based Cuban designer Annelys PM. Casanova, while getting a sense of the country’s unique challenges.
Naturally, some experts will take issue with the report’s findings, while others will inevitably wield the findings as weapon in the unending ideological battle over Cuba’s socialist regime, but Foresight Cuba has done some very important work with this study. Given the Cuban government’s monopoly over official statistics, we can only hope that more reports like this continue to enrich the conversation around Cuba’s future.