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    Tuesday, October 17, 2017-6:49:30A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

Regional News

Marshalls growth nearly at a standstill

MAJURO — The population in the Marshall Islands population is barely changing from year-to-year largely as a result of out-migration to the United States.

According to a newly released Asian Development Bank data report on the Pacific and Asia, the total population in the Marshall Islands has increased by only 3,000 people in 17 years — fewer than 200 people a year, despite the fact that in the 2000s, the Marshall Islands averaged around 1,500 births per year.

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Steady out-migration to the U.S. is a major factor contributing to minimal population growth in the Marshall Islands. Here, passengers board a United Airlines flight departing Majuro.  Photo by Giff Johnson

In 2000, the population estimate was 51,200. In 2016, this had increased to only 54,200, according to the report.

Out-migration has both decreased the number of births nationally and cancelled out the high-birth rate in terms of its impact on population increase. Beginning from the mid-1990s, an average of 1,000 Marshall Islanders left the country annually for the U.S. Since 2012, no out-migration data has been available. But the population statistics confirm out-migration is continuing at a significance pace.

In FY2010, the number of births nationally was over 1,500. Numbers have dropped off dramatically since then, with 1,116 births recorded in 2015, and 1,089 last year.

Births in Majuro — which has over 50 percent of the nation’s population — have declined from over 1,000 annually to 732 in FY2016, and were on track to be about 650 this fiscal year.

Births nationally have dropped to around 1,100 annually, which is about the same as the last available annual out-migration number. If the birth decline trend continues, the Marshall Islands may soon move from its current negligible growth to become a population in decline.

The United States Census Bureau in a recent report estimated there are 26,000 Marshall Islanders living in the U.S.