31.6 C
Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Issues with ‘aging population’ easier to handle–Neda

- Advertisement -

WHICH is more challenging? To have a fertility rate declining below replacement rate and be confronted with providing for an aging population, or see a fertility boom that makes poverty reduction harder?

To the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), the recent decline in the country’s fertility rate is welcome news, seeing it as creating opportunities to grow the economy and improve Filipinos’ well-being.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan told reporters on Monday that the country’s fertility rate was now below the replacement rate. While this presents a demographic problem, particularly in ageing, this is a more manageable concern than a population boom, he said.

Based on the Philippine Statistics Authority’s (PSA) National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) 2022, the total fertility rate (TFR) of Filipino women 15- to 49-years old now stands at 1.9 children, below the 2.1-percent replacement rate needed to sustain population growth.

“That problem of ageing, we’re so far away from there,” Balisacan said. “In the meantime, I would rather focus on seizing the opportunity of that declining fertility rather than this ageing population.”

Balisacan said the slower fertility rate presents opportunities to grow the economy and reduce the number of poor Filipinos, whereas a population boom would complicate poverty-reduction efforts.

He explained that with lower fertility rates, Filipino families will have more opportunity to move up the income ladder with fewer family members to support. In the Neda chief’s view, if households have more of the younger members, there will be fewer adults to support children.

If there are more adults compared to children in households, Balisacan said, families can focus on the quality of the care and attention they can provide to young members. This includes investments in health and education.

“It’s a positive because there will be more people working,” Balisacan said. “Their welfare will improve, their well-being will improve. They can now send their children to better schools because there are more members in the family with jobs.”

Reasons for decline

Meanwhile, the Commission on Population and Development (Popcom) said part of the reasons behind the decline in fertility rate is improved access to contraceptives, thanks to Republic Act 10354 or the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) Law of 2012.

This law, Popcom said, allowed the country to gain the momentum in upholding Filipinos’ sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). It also increased the practice of family planning which averts unplanned pregnancies, declining incidence of teenage pregnancies, and attaining fertility among women which is within their desired levels, among others.

In the second decade of enactment of the RPRH, sustaining the trajectory of the law’s triumphs will require much effort from the level of local government units, Popcom said. Provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays will now be mainly tasked to follow through with the law’s successes 10 years after its passage, as it cascades benefits to marginalized members of communities.

Transitioning to its second decade, the Popcom official believes that the way forward for the RPRH Law is toward universality of the access to reproductive health services—including those for family planning and maternal health care.

He added that “governance should be continuously examined and improved to ensure enabling partnerships between national and local governments, as well as with the private sector and civil society organizations.”

Based on the NDHS survey, the Philippines’s TFR has been on a downward trend since the 1970s, which was at 6 children per woman.  However, the decline from 2017 to 2022 was the sharpest ever recorded.

The same survey revealed that 1 in 2 currently married women said they no longer desire more children, while 17 percent want to delay their next childbirths for 2 or more years.

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Related Articles

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Latest Articles

- Advertisement -