As in all small communities with limited resources in terms of space and infrastructure, Jersey must walk a tightrope on the population issue.
The draft Strategic Plan recognises this, drawing attention to, on one hand, the threat that too high a population would pose to the quality of life and, on the other, the danger of demographic change reducing the ratio of working Islanders to dependants to dangerously low proportions. In essence, ministers believe that balance could be achieved by sanctioning immigration at a rolling five-year average of a maximum of 200 heads of household a year – which would equal about 430 individuals.
There has been a lot of evasive talk among influential politicians about population and immigration, but the draft plan ties planned policy down to a new set of specific figures.
It also says that behind-the-scenes work suggests that the rolling average of about 430 immigrants would balance the effects of falling birth and death rates and would help to address the problems of the ageing population and the ratio of workers to non-workers.
However, other measures would also be vital to ensure sustainability, including increasing pension age, encouraging more people to enter the workforce and improving economic productivity.
It is argued that a clear method of managing population is needed, that the population might actually decline in the medium term because of the present state of the economy and that a clear target for immigration will help in all areas of public sector forecasting and planning.
• Picture: Having too many people in Jersey causes problems – but so does reducing the ratio of working Islanders to dependants