Rising income levels in Sri Lanka are leading to notable changes in residential and employment demographics, according to the latest findings from Nielsen.
“As a country’s income levels rise, it is normal to see a shift away from single story homes. I don’t think we are going to see a mass migration towards apartment living in the near future but there is still a lot of room to expand capacity in the luxury apartments segment,” Managing Director, Nielsen Sri Lanka, Shaheen Cader said.
Despite significant developments in the luxury condominium segment, particularly in Sri Lanka’s post-war climate, luxury apartments only account for approximately 1% of the Colombo district’s 556,000 homes, with the majority of the population, 63%, living in single story houses and 21% in two storey homes, according to Nielsen’s latest findings.
Single story homes also account for 85% of Sri Lanka’s total 5.2 million households, whilst two-storey households account for 7%.
Significant amongst Nielsen’s other findings was a stark decline in average household size to 3.9 on average, with the lowest average size being recorded in the North Western and North Central provinces, alongside corresponding declines in the average number of children per woman. Cader attributed a notable decrease in female unemployment as being the primary cause for lower fertility rates, and therefore, smaller households.
Fertility rates declined from 2.8 inbetween 1982-1987 to 1.9 from 19952000, whilst female unemployment plunged from 12.3% in 2003 to 5.4% this year.
Nielsen’s findings also show a shift in age groups of women giving birth to children. In 2002, 30% of births were to mothers between the ages of 25-29, with a further 26% to mothers between the ages of 19-24 and 24% to mothers between 35-39.
However, in 2007, 33% of births were to mothers between 25-29 years and 24% between 30-34 years of age whilst 21% were born to mothers between 19-24. “We have noticed a sharp decline in average household size and the concept of living with extended family is now losing ground. This is partially because the birth rate has declined to the point where it is now below replacement level.”
“There may be many factors at play in these demographic shifts, but definitely more women are choosing to go out and have careers. These demographic changes could translate into issues like labour shortages in future. So, it is important that we take note of them to be able to manage the transitions that are to come,” Cader observed.