by John Anton Garcia

Periodically administered by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), this year’s National Health Demographic Survey reported that the total fertility rate (TFR) of Filipino women aged 15 to 49 years old had seen a 0.8 unit decrease from the previous 2017 tally.

Photo Courtesy of Philstar and  GlobalGiving

In a statement released last November 14, the Commission on Population and Development (PopCom) relayed these findings amidst widespread reports of the world population now being at 8 billion.

Despite foreseeing a fertility increase due to the lack of access to family planning services during lockdowns and the world population hitting the 8 billion mark last November 15, PopCom noted that the Philippines was still “able to register recent population statistics unheard of in years, with fertility numbers plummeting to less than two offspring per woman.”

The recorded TFR, at 1.9 children, is the third lowest in the ASEAN region and is lower than the average of 2.2 across all of Asia. This number is now analogous to that of upper middle-income countries’ at 1.8 and to those of Latin America’s and the Caribbean’s at 2.0.

Speaking as the officer-in-charge and the executive director of PopCom, Lolito Tacardon remarked that this decline might be opportune for the country to ‘maximize the momentum’ of downturning the birth rate while aiming to sustain advancements elsewhere.

“Focus should now be on ensuring that the quality and capacity of the country’s human resources are enhanced. 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,” Tacardon said.

The PopCom representative also mentioned that the decline could signal a transition that can be utilized as an avenue for poverty reduction and labor force participation.