A lot of studies suggest that population has a direct impact to the economy of a country. More specifically, several papers came out highlighting that the Philippines is already overpopulated and this is causing the economic woes of the country. A Policy Brief by the Philippine Center for Population and Development in 2010 categorically stated that “The rapid population growth in the Philippines over the last several decades has hindered the country’s economic development. From 2000 to 2009, the Philippines had one of the highest population growth rates in the Southeast Asian region at 2.04 percent (as of 2007) and the second largest population of more than 92 million in 2009, next only to Indonesia.”
The question is, is this really conclusive? Is population an asset or a liability for a nation? Focusing on the Philippine scenario, there are four issues that can be tackled.
1. Population limits or hinders economic development
On one hand, it can be said that more constituents could mean more burden for the government. It has to provide infrastructure, social services, housing, educational facilities, and others. This is supported not only by the report of PCPD but also by a paper released by the University School of Economics, The Asian Development Bank in its Country Poverty Analysis for the Philippines, among others. However, others cited that despite the steady population growth rate at 2%, the Philippines still experienced stronger economic rise from 2004 to 2008, and even in 2010 to present. Controlling the population could also effect an aging population in the future, which in turn could burden the government with retirement and pension expenses, having only a slimmer working group paying taxes. Besides, the economic development of a country is greatly affected also by food and fuel crises, global economic crises, typhoons and natural disasters.
Table 1. Comparative Population and GDP Growth Rates for 3 Countries
| Population Growth Rate| GDP Real Growth Rate|
Year| Phils| Thailand| Viet| Phils| Thailand| Viet|
2000| 2.07| 0.93| 1.49| 2.9| 4.0| 4.8|
2005| 1.84| 0.87| 1.04| 5.9| 6.1| 7.7|
2008| 1.99| 0.64| 0.99| 7.3| 4.8| 8.5|
2011| 1.9| 0.57| 1.08| 7.3| 7.8| 6.8|
| | | | source: www.indexmundi.com|
Table 2. Comparative Structure of 3 Countries
Age Group| Phils| Thailand| Viet|
0 - 14| 34.6| 19.9| 25.2|
15 - 64| 61.1| 70.9| 69.3|
65 +| 4.3| 9.2| 5.5|
| source: www.indexmundi.com| |
2. Overpopulation causes hunger
An SWS Survey released in March 2011 showed that 20.5% of Filipino families experienced hunger at least once the past 3 months. This is higher than the 18.1 % reported in November 2010. Does this indicate that with the rise in population, hunger is not far behind? Those who agreed pointed out that with more mouths to feed, then more expenses is expected. Distributing a scarce resource, such as food, to more people mean getting smaller shares. Probably, that is why responsible parenting is really very important. Those who can buy less food should perhaps minimize the number of children in their family. On the other hand, more members – although more mouths – could also mean more bodies to raise income and cultivate or find food.
While the percentage of families living below poverty line increased to 32.9 in 2011 from 30 in 2008, the total labor force numbered 38.9 Million in 2011, up from 36.2 Million in 2008.
3. More population lessens income
The per capita income of the Philippines is now at US$ 3,500. This has grown from 2008 at US$ 3,200, with only a slight difference of 0.8% in population growth rate. A high population could mean higher unemployment. Table 3 below shows otherwise. The Philippines currently is blessed with sufficient labor force that we even send workers abroad. Statistics show that there are now...