Population Growth & Decline
FOR decades, the Philippine population growth rate was estimated at averaging 2.5 percent a year. Although it declined to 1.9 percent between 2000 and 2010, the population growth was seen as a serious problem by some sectors, a critical factor that was hindering efforts to alleviate pervasive poverty in the country.
In 2012, Congress enacted Republic Act 10354 providing for a national policy on responsible parenthood and reproductive health. It included the provision of reproductive health care services and family planning methods and supplies. The stabilization of the population growth rate, it stressed, was only incidental to the advancement of reproductive health.
The Reproductive Health Law became a major bone of contention between the Aquino administration and the Catholic Church. It appears to have scored some success in keeping the Philippine population down. In 2014, the estimated population growth was down to 1.81 percent. The growth rate is now projected to decline significantly to .65 percent during the 2040-2045 period, when the Philippine population should be about 142 million, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.
It is interesting to note that while we are striving to keep our growing population in check, other nations around the world are suffering from quite the opposite problem of dwindling population. In December, 2015, China officially ended its one-child policy, which dated back to the late 1970s. It now declared that married couples may have a second child. It instituted the change because of its aging population and its shrinking workforce.
Early this month, the Eurostat of the European Union announced that France led Europe with the highest fertility rate in 2014, with 2.01 births per woman, followed by Ireland with 1.94, Sweden with 1.88, and Britain with 1.81 – but all still below the 2.1 births per woman considered by statisticians to be the replacement rate in a developed country. “The good result for France, but also for Europe’s northwestern countries in general, is explained by more generous family and social policies than found in southern and eastern European countries,” said a researcher at the demography institute in Paris.
Much closer to the Philippines, Taiwan announced a “Look South” policy, with the Taiwan government encouraging its business sector to lose no time in engaging potential partners in the Philippines and other countries south of Taiwan. One of the reasons for the policy to engage more Filipinos in business was Taiwan’s alarmingly low fertility rate of 1.1 babies per woman; it was looking forward to welcoming more Filipino managers to make up for its dwindling manpower.
Our population officials would do well to study all these developments worldwide. There seems to be a lesson here somewhere, that we may apply in our programs on population and development.