9 Jun 2008

Migration keeps Polynesian populations low compared with Melanesia - demographer

7:43 pm on 9 June 2008

A New Caledonia based demographer says migration is one of the reasons for wide differences in population growth between Melanesia and Polynesia.

The total Pacific population has grown by just 1-point-9 percent over the past year, which the Secretariat of the Pacific Community's Andreas Demmke says averages out to about 180,000 per year, or 500 people per day.

But Mr Demmke shows that the growth figures are dramatically higher in the Melanesian countries..

"The Polynesian countries they have lots of migration. Like for example the Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa, Tokelau and Tonga - lots are migrating to New Zealand. While the Melanesian countries are what we'd call closed countries, as people can't move and they stay in the countries and they grow, because they can't move and they have large families."

Andreas Demmke says other challenges to population growth in Pacific countries are low life expectancy and high infant mortality rates.