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Philippines' fertility rate drops in 2022 —PopCom

The Philippines’ fertility rate has plummeted to less than two offspring per woman, the Commission on Population and Development  (PopCom) has said.

PopCom made the announcement as the United Nations officially marked the day the global population reached eight billion.

According to Maki Pulido’s report on “24 Oras” on Tuesday, the sharp decline in fertility — or the number of offspring given birth by women who have the capacity to bear children — fell from an average of three babies per woman (2.7) aged 15 to 49 years old in 2017 to less than two for every mother this year (1.9).

“Historically, five-year interval mga percentage points lang po ang ibinababa niyan. So noong 2017 to 2022 period, 'yan po yung nakitaan natin ng almost one child na pagbaba,” PopCom officer-in-charge Executive Director Lolito Tacardon said.

The commission attributed the drop in fertility rate to various factors including women's empowerment and the easier access of Filipinos to family planning and birth control.

“The fact na tumaas po yung prevalence of family planning methods actually it's indicative of 'yung kakayahang mag-decision ng mga kababaihan,” Tacardon said.

The data on fertility rate was a result of the Philippine Statistics Authority’s (PSA) National Health Demographic Survey (NDHS) 2022, according PopCom.

"The survey also disclosed that the Philippines’ total fertility rate (TRF) has been on a downward trend since the 1970s, which was at 6 children per woman.  However, the decline from 2017 to 2022 was the sharpest ever recorded," PopCom said.

"Same survey revealed that 1 in 2 currently married women said they no longer desire more children, while 17% want to delay their next childbirths for 2 or more years," it added.

Tacardon noted that the Philippines’ latest TFR "is now comparable to those of upper middle-income countries’ 1.8 children and Thailand at 1.5 children."

"In the ASEAN region, the Philippines has now the third-lowest after Singapore’s 1.1 children. It is lower than the Asian average of 2.2, and is comparable to Latin America’s and the Caribbean’s, which is at 2.0 children. The Philippines, however, has lower fertility levels than Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia," he said.

Tacardon said that the significant decline in total fertility rate offers both an opportunity, as well as a challenge.

“On one hand, this can be considered as a breakthrough for the country’s programs on population and development as well as family planning, which were instituted more than five decades ago," he said.

The PopCom official said that various sectoral developments should take advantage of the "demographic opportunity to hasten socioeconomic development."

“Focus should now be on ensuring that the quality and capacity of the country’s human resources are enhanced. At the household level, lower fertility also means greater opportunity for personal development of couples and individuals, which can redound to more savings and investments," he said.—LDF, GMA Integrated News