Inevitable population decline: What to do about it | Inquirer Opinion

Inevitable population decline: What to do about it

/ 05:01 AM November 30, 2022

As recently announced by our Philippines Statistics Authority, our total fertility rate (TFR) is now well-below replacement level, at an average of 1.9 children per Filipina over her lifetime. Replacement fertility level, the number of children required to keep a population from declining, is about 2.2 for countries with levels of development and medical care similar to ours. It is greater than two because not all women who are born eventually have children of their own, so other mothers must have more to take their place. This new TFR places us among countries that are facing a future of declining population, which has already brought on economic stagnation, Japan being the prime example. No country in the contraceptive era has ever succeeded in raising its fertility back above replacement level after falling below.

Population decline—and more importantly that of the labor force—will not begin for us immediately, but it is now inevitable, yet the government continues to push for even fewer births. Economies lose all dynamism in the face of population decline because it produces an aged society, and older people are naturally less dynamic than their younger compatriots.


Below-replacement fertility over the past half century has gone from a handful of small nations to half the countries on earth, including China, and soon, India. Many of them are obviously on the way to extinction. We won’t escape this fate ourselves—unless we deliberately choose to act to avoid it—because of the forces that have produced it: education for women, later age of marriages, and urban migration. None of these will decline in the foreseeable future. To overcome their effects on fertility demands deliberate decisions to do so on the part of government and citizenry. The question is, will we make these decisions and follow through with them?

Rosie B. Luistro,chair,


Alliance for the Family Foundation Philippines, Inc.

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