During the fourth quarter of 2016 the population of Curaçao reached a size of 160,000 inhabitants. In the fifteen years leading up to 2017 a total of 33,000 persons were added to the population, which translates to a total growth of 26 percent, or an average annual growth rate of 1.5 percent. While migration has been the main driver of population growth in recent decades, natural population growth, the difference between the number of births and the number of deaths over a given period, has always been a steady contributor to population growth. Because fertility and mortality developments usually happen very gradually the outcome of these processes, the annual number of births and number of deaths, do not fluctuate very much, as opposed to the number of migrants.
However, in the three years up to 2016 a rather sharp decline in the number of births and a steep increase in the number of deaths have been registered in Curaçao, both developments more intense than expected. This article aims to examine the recent trends in population growth and focus especially on the sharp decline in fertility and the characteristics of this decline. In a future article the increased number of deaths and its possible causes shall be addressed. Furthermore determinants of fertility decline, in general and for Curaçao specific, will be discussed. One of the potential factors of fertility decline that will be considered in this article is the outbreak of two vector-borne disease epidemics shortly after one another in the 2014-2016 period, namely the 2014/2015 chikungunya epidemic and the 2016 Zika epidemic.
The data used for this article are live birth, death and migration registrations from the population registry of Curaçao, in combination with population census data.