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Frequently Asked Questions about the Philippine Population and its implications

F & Q-1

1. We’re approaching 100 million! Is there reason to be scared?

Fear usually comes from misunderstanding the issue. No thanks to Thomas Malthus and Paul Ehrlich who both said that runaway population growth (to borrow the term from the media) will lead to widespread hunger, famine, and disease. Ehrlic said this will happen in the 70s. It did not happen. He said it will happen in the 80s. It did not happen. Today, the media, fueled by ignorance and denial of many people, still say that this will happen in the future, but by now we already know not to trust them.


2. How can you say that?! Do you think there will be enough food to feed everyone?

The World Food Programme lists several factors for the lack of food in certain places, and having too many people is not one of them. Here in our country, there are factors that affect food production, like the fact that our farmers lack the technology and the infrastructure required to grow more food. The key is to produce more food, not to curb population.

3. But curbing “runaway population growth” means less mouths to feed!

Yes, but these “mouths to feed” (a very insulting thing to say to PEOPLE by the way) also have two arms, two feet, a heart, and a brain that can be part of the workforce in the future, stabilizing our economy.

4. But more people means a weaker economy!

Says who? There is no real evidence that supports the claim that population growth has jeopardized the economy. If anything, population growth has actually helped the economy of China, Singapore, and the Philippines, according to the study of Wong Hok Tsen and Fumitaka Furuoka entitled “The Relationship between Population and Economic Growth in Asian Economies”[1]. So clearly, if there’s a direction that our population must take, it has to increase, not decrease.

5. 100 Million! We’re going to be filling every island in the Philippines and get overcrowded!

No we won’t. Population isn’t just about the number of people; you have to factor in population growth rate, population density, and total fertility rate in as well. Our growth rate is around 1.7%[2], our population density is  330 people per square kilometers[3], and the average number of children every Filipina mother is having is just around 3.10, which is way down from an average of 7.15 in 1960[4]. It is very easy to make the mistake of saying that the Philippines is overpopulated just because Metro Manila is congested. The National Statistical Coordination Board of the Philippines says: With a land area of only 619.5 square kilometers and a population of 11,553,427, Metro Manila has a population density of 18,650 persons per square kilometer in 2007[5].

7. What needs to be done then?

Our government needs to curb corruption, not the population! Esteemed economist Dr. Bernardo Villegas explains the problem succinctly: “P400 billion is yearly lost to corruption: P200 billion lost in tax evasion and another P200 billion lost in government resources used unproductively.”[6] And this statement was made prior to the PDAF scandal!

It makes much, much more sense to invest in the population than to curb it. While a lot of countries like Japan and Singapore, and many of the European countries like France, Italy, Spain, and Russia are very worried about their aging and dwindling population, to the point that they had to come up with so many creative ways to get couples to procreate, the media, the government, and a lot of sectors are passing around ignorance by emphasizing on curbing our population.

Let us invest on education, skills training, and the creation of businesses that will employ more people rather than focusing our energies on slowing our population growth.

 

 

 



[1] Wong Hok Tsen, Fumitaka Furuoka, The Relationship between Population and Economic Growth in Asian Economies, http://muse.jhu.edu/login?auth=0&type=summary&url=/journals/asean_economic_bulletin/v022/22.3.wong.html

 

[5] National Statistical Coordination Board, http://www.nscb.gov.ph/factsheet/pdf08/FS-200806-SS1-01.asp

 

[6] Cunan, Bel Political Tidbits, http://www.polbits.com/2010_08_01_archive.html

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