**Joan Collins**

THE average age of the Balearic population is nearly one year more than what it was ten years ago, according to figures released by the Balearic Institute of Statistics. This is in spite of the fact that the massive immigration experienced by the islands in the first few years of the new century put a brake on this tendency. That is to say, the average age of the population is one year more than it was 10 years ago, but this is less than it would have been if the immigrants hadn't arrived. However, the ageing of the population, and the brake put on it by the arrival of foreign immigrants from countries outside the European Union, has not affected all towns on the islands equally. The population has increased thanks to immigration, but it has not increased equally in towns throughout the islands.

In the case of Majorca, the outline is very clear: the towns in the Serra de Tramuntana mountains and those in the centre of the island have a higher average age. Not even the construction of lots of roads, such as the motorway to Inca, making the popuulation more mobile, has been able to slow down the ageing.

Young couples with children have moved to towns nearer to Palma, contributing to a fall in the average age, but this phenomenon has mainly been seen in the towns nearest to the capital and, curiously enough, in the area of the Majorcan Llevant. The analysis of the average age of the inhabitants of each town on the island is very telling in the case of Majorca. Ariany heads the list of localities where the population is older, with an average age of 49.77 years. In second position is Estellencs with 47.75 years, followed by Buger (46.38 years), Banyalbufar (45.59 years), Sant Joan (45.39 years), Escorca (45.35 years), Llubi (44.46 years), Montuiri (44.44 years) and Porreres (44.38 years). Costitx, with an average age of 44.13 years, closes the list of the 10 towns with the oldest average population on Majorca. At the other end of the scale, on the list of towns with the youngest population, Alcudia stands out. Its inhabitants have an average age of 36 years, that is to say, 14 years less than the average age of the inhabitants of Ariany. The difference between some towns is notable. The list of the 10 towns with the youngest population is headed by Alcudia. Following Alcudia is Marratxi with an average age of 36.27 years, then Son Servera with 36.93 years, Calvia (37.09 years), Inca (37.68 years), Llucmajor (38.50 years), Lloseta (38.63 years), Capdepera (38.64 years), Santa Margalida (38.68 years) and Palma with 38.78 years. With the exception of Marratxi, which is on the list by virtue of its proximity to the capital, these towns are all on the coast. The conclusion is that immigration has reduced the average age in tourist localities, where foreigners from outside the European Union settle because there are more possibilites for work, but the average age in the inland towns has continued an unaltered rise. On analysis by islands, Majorca is the one with the greatest average age. Its inhabitants have an average age of 39.15 years, in comparison with 38.51 for the residents on Minorca, and 37.73 years for the inhabitants of Ibiza. Formentera is a little below Majorca, the residents on this island having an average age of 39.06 years. In any case, in spite of the youth of Ibiza's residents none of its towns have an average age below that of Alcudia. Just as interesting as the study of the average age of the inhabitants of each town on Majorca is the analysis of the evolution of the Balearic population during the last 10 years. The average age of the citizens of the islands has gone from 38.14 years in 1996 to 38.94 years in 2005.

But the rise has not been dependent on where the inhabitants were born.

The average age of those born in the Balearics has gone from 35.9 years to 36.58 years, while the average age of those born in other regions of Spain has risen much more: from an averge of 42.84 years to 45.38 years. In the case of foreigners, the average age has not just not risen but has fallen. The average age of Balearic inhabitants born outside of Spain in 1996 was 42.94 years. Ten years on, the average age has fallen to 37.5 years. The ageing index, which is the proportion of citizens aged over 64 years compared with those aged less than 16 years, was 81.11 percent.

In 2005 it had risen to 85.29 percent.

The over-aging index (the number of over 84s compared to over 64s) had risen from 9.99 to 11.59 per cent.

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