Neda chief clarifies population terms
This refers to the article titled “Enrile grills Neda chief on population, economics” by Cathy C. Yamsuan (Inquirer, 8/7/12).
The article stated that the “United Nations had set a 2.1-percent fertility rate for countries” and that “the country had a population growth rate of 1.98 percent.” It then quoted Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile as saying that “we are below the UN acceptable rate.”
It is unfortunate that the conclusions drawn from the discussion of these two figures led to some confusion as both indicators were correlated as pointed out in the article. We would like to clarify to the readers that population growth rate and fertility rate are two different concepts.
Population growth indicates how fast a population increases or decreases as a result of the interplay of births, deaths and migration during a given period of time. On the other hand, fertility rate, which is not expressed in percentage, pertains to “the number of births a woman would have, on average, at the end of her reproductive years” (2008 National Demographic and Health Survey [NDHS], p. 39). Therefore, a high fertility rate is one of the contributors to a higher population growth, the other factors being mortality rate and migration.
The latest population growth of the Philippines stood at 1.90 percent, while the country’s fertility rate is 3.3 according to the 2008 NDHS. On the other hand, the 2.1 figure referred to in the article is actually what international demographers term as “replacement rate,” or the fertility rate wherein a woman, on average, is able to replace two parents. It is the rate at which, if held for a long time, the population stabilizes, i.e., population growth is zero.
I am sorry that I was not able to clarify this distinction owing to the time constraints during the hearing session. We hope this letter would clarify this matter to Inquirer readers.
—ARSENIO M. BALISACAN,
National Economic and Development Authority
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