The Philippines, the second biggest country among members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, has the highest total fertility rate (TFR) in the region, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
Iori Kato, UNFPA country representative in the Philippines, said the country’s population is fast growing.
“If you ask me if it’s good or bad, you must look at the rate of employed persons,” Kato told Manila Times in an interview.
The Philippine Statistics Authority defines TFR as the average number of children that would be born alive to a woman during her lifetime.
The Department of Labour and Employment earlier reported that of the Philippines’ 100.98mn population, roughly 30% are employed.
“If close to half of population is jobless, it’s for you to decide if the TFR is good or bad for the Philippines,” the UN official said.
He said the Philippines’ TFR has always been above the target. The UNFPA said countries with high TFR can reap “demographic dividend.”
Demographic dividend, based on the agency’s definition, is the economic growth potential that can result from shifts in a population’s ages structure, mainly when the share of the working age population is larger than the non-working age share.
“Over half of Filipinos are 24 years of age or below. For this youthful country to reap a demographic dividend, there is an imminent need to invest more in health, education and employability of young people and on gender equality,” Kato said.
He added that many Filipino adolescents are not reaping the fruits of their most productive years.
“Millions of Filipinos would benefit from having the power to choose whether and when to have children, and how many children to have. If you can plan your family, you can plan your life,” Kato said.
He added that the UNFPA will continue to partner with the Philippines to ensure that all Filipinos have access to sexual and reproductive health information and services.