Most couples prefer smaller families now

The Commission on Population and Development underscored that the decreasing number of young Filipinos is indicative of the choice of most women and couples to build smaller families.

PopCom executive director, Undersecretary Juan Antonio Perez III, in a statement Monday, said having smaller families, usually consisting of couples or parents with one or two children, has become a worldwide trend in the last half-century.

In contrast, it pointed out that the number of elderly people has increased “due to better health and socioeconomic conditions.”

He said seniors are better educated and having healthier lifestyles.

Citing a recent Philippine Statistics Authority report, PopCom derived that the percentage share of Filipino children under five is now down to 10.2 percent in 2020 from 10.8 percent in 2015, and 12.6 percent in 2000.

In the last two decades, the percentage in the population of Filipinos under 15 has dropped from a 37-percent share in 2000 to 30.7 percent in 2020. Meanwhile, the median age of Filipinos also went up to 25.3 years old, from 23.3 years old in 2010, continuing a 30-year trend of increasing median age of Filipinos, according to the PSA.

In 2020, Filipinos 60 years of age and older comprised 8.5 percent of the population, or 9.2 million. That year saw the doubling of the country’s aging citizens’ numbers from 2000, when they represented just 5.9 percent of the national population at 4.5 million.

Senior citizen

In 2015, 24.4 percent or 5,606,500 of the 22,975,630 households nationwide had at least one member who was a senior citizen.

Perez said the relatively large numbers in the age group 5 to 14 who will gradually join the workforce up to 2035, can be beneficial to “ensuring a robust and potentially effective workforce.”

“Policies which take advantage of this potential can reap a demographic dividend during this period, with policies to increase the employability of the young and women, greater entrepreneurship, incentives for local MSMEs and increasing financial literacy,” he added.

The PopCom chief, however, bared that the bane of social unrest and instability will result from increasing poverty in the general population and joblessness among the young Filipinos.

“The bane will even get worse if we keep growing our pop at the rate of 1.6 percent, which was seen pre-pandemic. We cannot be complacent in our national and local family planning and (reproductive health) efforts,” he added.

Perez said that the current situation of the Philippines, being in a “demographic window of opportunity”, was also seen in other countries in Europe, North and South America, the West, and other Southeast Asian countries.

“A demographic transition which countries need to tackle with the correct population and development policies affecting the poor, young people, and women,” he added.

The demographic dividend or window of opportunity is defined as the period during which a country’s population experiences age structures that are highly favorable for development.

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