Philippine fertility rate drops to lowest since 1970s at 1.9

PARK-GOERS enjoy a ride at the Quezon Memorial Circle in this November 2021 photo, when the government started to further ease restrictions in Metro Manila. — PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

THE AVERAGE number of kids of Filipino women of childbearing age has gone down to 1.9 this year from 2.7 in 2018, bucking an expected increase due to limited access to family planning services during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM). 

In a statement on Monday, POPCOM noted that the fertility rate of females aged 15 to 49 “has been on a downward trend since the 1970s, which was at six children per woman.”    

It added that “the decline from 2017 to 2022 was the sharpest ever recorded.”  

The latest fertility rate was based on the Philippine Statistics Authority’s National Health Demographic Survey 2022 presented Friday.   

Lolito R. Tacardon, POPCOM officer in charge-executive director, said this development “can be considered as a ‘breakthrough’ for the country’s programs on population and development as well as family planning, which were instituted more than five decades ago.”  

He said the fertility rate decline presents an opportunity to speed up and enhance socioeconomic growth.     

“Economic gains from the demographic transition can be funneled to reduce poverty and improve labor force participation. The country will continue to see a robust labor force at over 63% of the population until 2030 or 2035, which is a full dozen years away,” he said.   

“At the household level, lower fertility also means greater opportunity for personal development of couples and individuals, which can redound to more savings and investments,” he added.   

The Philippines’ fertility rate is now the third lowest among southeast Asian nations, after Singapore’s 1.1 and Thailand’s 1.5, Mr. Tacardon noted.   

At the same time, the POPCOM head acknowledged that the country must also address concerns on teenage pregnancies and reducing fertility in rural areas “where the rates are still high.” — MSJ