Reunion, in administrative terms now both a département of France and an Overseas region, had at the end of 2006 over 780 000 inhabitants over a 2500 km² surface area. The symbolic figure of one million is expected to be reached in around 2030.
In order to gain better understanding of the driving forces behind this growth in population, a team of demographers collected a large quantity of data, on marriage rate, fecundity, mortality and migrations. Their analysis resulted in a detailed report on the changes in Reunion Island’s population from the mid 1980s up to the end of 2005. It revealed that during this period the Reunion population struggled to complete its demographic transition.
Since 1995, the synthetic fecundity index (SFI) stagnated at around 2.4 children per woman whereas in metropolitan France it had settled at about 1.9 children per woman, in other words at the limit of the threshold of generation renewal. Examination of Reunion’s fecundity alongside the low deviation in mortality figures between this overseas region and mainland France, brought out reasons for the island’s continuingly higher population growth rate compared with metropolitan France.
The changes in fecundity came about to a background of upheavals in Reunion’s society: the role and structure of the family, women’s condition and status, development of schooling and changes in the forms of marital union. The relatively higher fecundity in Reunion was judged to be a sign of “social fracture” suffered by the poorest sections of its population. Much of the difference in SFI turned out to be the result of high fecundity among young women of between 15 and 24 years. For these young girls, usually from deprived backgrounds, having a child early in life would be a way of gaining a certain respectability, motherhood in a way serving as an alternative to the social recognition that entry into employment would otherwise provide.
The relationships between population and the economy are often referred to in attempts to fathom the reasons for the record unemployment rate currently hitting Reunion. This figure reached or even exceeded 30% during the period 1993-2006 and is still higher than that of regions in Europe. Population growth is frequently blamed by those in politics as the principal – or even the sole – factor responsible for this situation. However, the départementalisation implemented at the same time as a switch from a sugar-industry based economy towards a service economy, in the space of scarcely a few decades, no doubt played a predominant role in the building-up of such a high unemployment rate.
Examination of the current and future structure of Reunion’s population suggests that the political discourse which condemns population growth could nonetheless be turned completely around because the proportion of active individuals within the population as a whole will reach its maximum over the next two decades. Government authorities and investors could take advantage of this opportunity to give impulse to economic production. Then by encouraging savings and investment, the island would find itself in its “demographic golden age”, according to the expression the economists use.
Throughout the history of Reunion’e settlement, migration flows have played a significant role in the successive phases of rise or fall of its population. Present-day migration episodes, which take place more spontaneously, have become much more unpredictable. The theories used for the demographic projections, and notably those concerning migrations, which remain extremely difficult to formulate, postulate that from the time of writing to 2030, between 0 and 3500 new arrivals could come on to the jobs market each year, compared with 7000 at present.
The sustained population growth currently experienced by Reunion must not therefore be too hastily perceived as a drawback to the island’s economic development. The rise in population density will call for structural adaptations, whether it be of housing (higher-rise collective blocks no doubt being necessary progressively to replace individual family houses) or of road infrastructure which could provide more room for mass public transport. However, at a moment when many Western countries are concerned about stagnation or even decline in their population numbers, Reunion with its population growth could draw benefit from the situation as a way to give second wind to its economic and social model.
1. This research work was conducted jointly with demographers from the Reunion Direction régionale des affaires sanitaires et sociales (DRASS) (‘Regional Department of Health and Social Affairs’), the French Institut National d’Etudes Démographiques (INED), the Institut National de la Statistique et des Etudes Economiques (INSEE) and the Université René Descartes, Paris.
Grégory Fléchet | alfa
New measure for the wellbeing of populations could replace Human Development Index
07.11.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Because not only arguments count
30.10.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Mathematik in den Naturwissenschaften (MPIMIS)
DESY and MPSD scientists create high-order harmonics from solids with controlled polarization states, taking advantage of both crystal symmetry and attosecond electronic dynamics. The newly demonstrated technique might find intriguing applications in petahertz electronics and for spectroscopic studies of novel quantum materials.
The nonlinear process of high-order harmonic generation (HHG) in gases is one of the cornerstones of attosecond science (an attosecond is a billionth of a...
Nano- and microtechnology are promising candidates not only for medical applications such as drug delivery but also for the creation of little robots or flexible integrated sensors. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) have created magnetic microparticles, with a newly developed method, that could pave the way for building micro-motors or guiding drugs in the human body to a target, like a tumor. The preparation of such structures as well as their remote-control can be regulated using magnetic fields and therefore can find application in an array of domains.
The magnetic properties of a material control how this material responds to the presence of a magnetic field. Iron oxide is the main component of rust but also...
Due to the special arrangement of its molecules, a new coating made of corn starch is able to repair small scratches by itself through heat: The cross-linking via ring-shaped molecules makes the material mobile, so that it compensates for the scratches and these disappear again.
Superficial micro-scratches on the car body or on other high-gloss surfaces are harmless, but annoying. Especially in the luxury segment such surfaces are...
The Potsdam Echelle Polarimetric and Spectroscopic Instrument (PEPSI) at the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) in Arizona released its first image of the surface magnetic field of another star. In a paper in the European journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, the PEPSI team presents a Zeeman- Doppler-Image of the surface of the magnetically active star II Pegasi.
A special technique allows astronomers to resolve the surfaces of faraway stars. Those are otherwise only seen as point sources, even in the largest telescopes...
Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology and the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have proposed a way to create a completely new source of radiation. Ultra-intense light pulses consist of the motion of a single wave and can be described as a tsunami of light. The strong wave can be used to study interactions between matter and light in a unique way. Their research is now published in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.
"This source of radiation lets us look at reality through a new angle - it is like twisting a mirror and discovering something completely different," says...
11.03.2019 | Event News
01.03.2019 | Event News
28.02.2019 | Event News
22.03.2019 | Life Sciences
22.03.2019 | Life Sciences
22.03.2019 | Information Technology