“If nothing is done, Mayotte will not be able to benefit from the demographic dividend offered by the youth of its population”

Lhe visit to Mayotte by Gérald Darmanin, Minister of the Interior and Overseas Territories, from August 21 to 23, was placed under the sign of the fight against illegal immigration. The various measures announced are essentially aimed at strengthening controls and intensifying deportations to the border. It is undeniable that the development of Mayotte passes by the control of this strong immigration.

However, even if the number of immigrants were to decrease significantly in the future – which remains hypothetical given the persistence of development gaps between Mayotte and the Union of the Comoros – the demographic dynamics of the Mayotte population constitute a major development issue. However, this essential point seems to be too little present in the current debates related to the future of the “seahorse island”.

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Population growth is occurring at a record pace in this narrow territory of 374 square kilometres. During the 2017 census, Mayotte had 256,518 inhabitants, 43,900 more than in 2012. The population has increased tenfold since 1958, quadrupled between 1985 and 2017, and doubled over the past twenty years. Regulating this demographic pressure is one of the most demanding challenges for the island.

A significant emigration

Since the departmentalization of 2011, the population growth rate has been 3.8% on average per year, a level well above that of all the other French departments (including Guyana). Above all, this progression breaks the long-term trend, which was that of a slowdown in population growth: starting from a record rate of 5.8% per year at the end of the 1980s, the increase had gradually slowed down until in 2012. Over the period 2007-2012, it stood at “only” 2.7% per year.

The analysis of Mahoran demographic dynamics naturally leads to study the characteristics of the natural movement – ​​excess of births over deaths – and those of the migratory movement. The natural movement brought to the island on average, between 2012 and 2017, 7,700 additional inhabitants per year. This is the result of a high birth rate (4.9 children per woman compared to 1.9 in mainland France) combined with a low number of deaths (735 in 2017) due to the youth of the population: 30% of individuals have under 10 years old, 50% under 18 years old and those aged 60 and over represent only 4% of the population (six times less than in mainland France).

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