Falklands' population in 'constrictive' trend, says Argentine team on the field
The Falklands' population composition can be described as 'constrictive' since there is a tendency to ageing in the population pyramid, in other words there are more elderly people than children. Comments belong to a member of an Argentine team of geography and migration experts from a university in Santa Fe province (Universidad Nacional del Litoral, UNL), who have been granted scholarships to collect such data from the Islands, based on a project the team presented.
In effect, in 1991, 20% of the Falklands' population was under 15, but currently that percentage has fallen to 16%, while 10% is over 65. The ageing index according to the Argentine experts climbed from 44.7 to 66.
It's something you can see in the streets. There are few children and the fertility rate is low points out Gustavo Peretti, head of the UNL's Geography Department and leader of the project who travelled to the Falklands together with Mariano Varisco.
Among the young adults migrants prevail while the majority of those over 50 are native born Islanders.
However Peretti admits that for a population of 2.000, Stanley is well equipped, it has the services of a major city: a good hospital, old age pensioners homes in the same block, post office, bank and even a weekly, Penguin News. Regarding health care, they lack specialists but if necessary patients are flown to Chile and Britain.
Peretti also points out that the Falklands are an excellent place to study migration because with a population not reaching 3.000, there are people from sixty different countries.
It's an excellent lab to study migration, movements and the social webs and this is great for the investigation, admits the Argentine geography expert whose project is funded by Argentina's Ministry of Culture.
We're very much interested in studying the role played by social networks in helping create migratory tendencies, and this is particularly interesting regarding the influx to the Falklands of non British population, mainly from Chile and Argentina.
To that respect Peretti explained in an interview with a Santa Fe daily that it's common to think that people travel overseas in search for jobs, but what we have discovered that when you look in detail into the tendencies, yes, economics conditions are a very strong factor, but there are also other issues such as links, connections, which in recent years have found a globalized space through the social networks to meet and exchange
And then goes on to mention an example of this in Malvinas where there are 15 Philippines that arrived to the Islands because they contacted via social networks and now they are wives or fiancées.
According to the data managed by the UNL team, 55% of the Islands population out of 2.840, are Islanders, that is they were born in the Malvinas and have full Falklands' status, with all the benefits that implies.
From the British Overseas Territory of St Helena, in the middle of the Atlantic, famous for Napoleon, came 10% of the Malvinas population, added Peretti,
They are followed by Chileans who come on temporary contracts, from six months to two years. Usually from the south of Chile, which has a similar climate.
Wind is quite rough and it can get complicated to be in the open, even in summer time, we had snow twice in January, added the Argentine geographer.
Chileans are followed by Argentines, despite the war, the claim and the constant pressure on the Islands, there are 18 Argentines living in the Islands.
Then come the fifteen Philippines and ten Uruguayans, and even smaller groups representing over fifty different countries.
Most who have migrated to the Islands is because they have some relative, friend or acquaintance living there. Arriving in the Islands is very regulated and closely monitored, but once you've made it, integration of migrants is fluid in the local community, and they are accepted, and if you are given residence or full status your are entitled to the same benefits and privileges in healthcare, education, etc”.
The UNL team will continue their research and other teams will be visiting the Islands, according to Peretti.
The project has identified four demographic periods to analyze with different growth in the Islands' history:
1851/1871: the greatest rate of demographic growth, almost 5%. This can be explained because the Malvinas were occupied by the British twenty years earlier in 1833.
1871/1901: the population growth rate falls to 2.9%
1901/1986: demographic growth stalls to the point that in 1986 the population number was the same as in 1901. Many Islanders migrated from the Islands. Some of them volunteered with British forces in both world conflicts
1986/2011: Following the conflict between Argentina and Britain, population starts to grow again but at a 1.4% rate. Numbers went from 2.091 to 2.840.
PD It is not known whether the Argentine team appealed to the abundant information from the Falklands' censuses and statistics.