Figures just revealed from the 2021 Census of Population and Housing have shown that the population as at October 2021 was 71,432. This was a much-discussed figure last year when government had estimated that there were around 71,000 people in Cayman, a figure used to decide the population percentage needed to be vaccinated before Cayman could safely reopen during the pandemic.
Premier Wayne Panton said the 2021 Census brought clarity on population growth and said the unplanned and unrestrained growth that had taken place in Cayman had significant consequences for the Cayman people, in particular for Caymanians trying to find affordable housing.
Cayman needed to decide on what was an appropriate rate of growth and develop policies for that instead of accepting unrestrained growth, he said.
The primary highlight from the Census confirmed that Cayman’s population as at October 2021 was 71,432, which showed that the data aligned with government’s estimate at that time when determining the numbers for vaccination.
It was worth considering that the population was estimated to be just over 63,000 in 2017 and in 1997 it was 37,000, representing a very significant rate of growth, the Premier said, at a 70% growth rate over 20 years. 2021 showed a further rate of growth of 29% in the last decade, as a result of an open immigration policy. There was no doubt the population growth had brought opportunities for growth for government and the private sector but it had left Cayman without certain infrastructure which meant it was struggling to keep up and a lacked of development plan, the Premier said.
It had brought Cayman much in the way of economic benefits but the government needed to acknowledge the staggering rate of growth had left many Caymanians feeling exasperated with issues such as the cost of living, traffic problems and lack of spaces for children in schools.
“We need as a government and a country to have more careful managed growth,” he said.
Information from the Census would help the government to ensure the most vulnerable could access the services they needed, such as people with disabilities, the elderly and people without health insurance. It would also help the NGOs better understand the people they served.
Deputy Premier and Finance Minister Chris Saunders said the population figure vindicated the percentage of people needed to be vaccinated, even though many people thought the figure had been too high.
He gave some statistical highlights from the Census. Out of the 71,432 residents, the majority lived in George Town (49%), then West Bay (21.6%), followed by Bodden Town, the Sister Islands, North Side and then East End. Bodden Town had seen the biggest growth rate in ten years, while the Sister islands had seen a decrease in the population. The majority of the population were in the working age group (57,360), while children made up 16.7% of the population and the elderly made up 7.9%.