POST-PANDEMIC Philippines could see an uptick in the number of births similar to what happened after the Second World War, according to the Commission on Population and Development (Popcom).
Undersecretary for Population and Development (POPDEV) Juan Antonio Perez III said as Filipinos learn to live with Covid-19, there could be a rebound in terms of marriages, pregnancies, and births.
However, Perez said the increase will be more controlled as the trend in the past decade of having smaller families could continue, especially with economic recovery still fragile.
“It will most likely approximate and for some years exceed slightly pre-pandemic birth rates, but the trend in the last decade has been for smaller families and that will persist as the economy faces challenges,” Perez told BusinessMirror on Sunday.
“The difference [between the baby boom after the war] will be that couples have the choice of modern family planning methods this time while in the late forties they only had abstinence and delayed marriages,” he added.
The Popcom chief added that the country’s fertility rate is currently at 2.5 births per woman, from a high of 6 in the 1960s when there was no family planning program.
Living with Covid
“Filipinos will eventually learn to live with Covid-19. As such, we may see increased births after the era of Covid, with family planning helping couples avoid unplanned pregnancies, unlike in the late 1940s and 1950s when there was no family planning program,” Perez said.
Based on the latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), first quarter births showed a 24.8-percent decline to 268,833 births in 2021 compared to 357,510 births in 2020.
Marriages also declined 10.78 percent to 87,120 marriages in the first three months of 2021 from 97,650 marriages in the same period last year.
With this, Perez said, the slowing trend of marriages, pregnancies and childbirths will likely continue this year. He said this could lead to a lower addition to the country’s population by the end of 2021.
“In general we are living in an abnormal time where social disruption will lead to demographic changes that were difficult to project 18 months ago. Now that we have demographic outcomes after a year, we can see some emerging tendencies,” Perez told this newspaper.
“Since the situation has not markedly improved nine months into the year it could be predictive of the year-end result, for births, marriages and deaths,” he added.
Perez said in a statement, however, that the data for the first quarter may also be lower due to delays in the registry of births, more so in the provinces, as midwives may have met difficulties in reporting them due to the pandemic.
With regard to the decline in the number of those entering into married life, Perez opined that generally for Filipinos, being in a relationship has become more “informal,” with figures declining from a high of 593,553 couples who tied the knot in 2003.
“As such, Popcom will devote a significant amount of its energies on young people who are now living together, and are having difficulty in acquiring family planning services, under its recent mandate to address the root causes of teen pregnancy,” he stated.
Popcom cited a significant drop in the number of births in 2020, with just 1.516 million registered in the country—the lowest number of registered births since 1986, when only 1.494 million Filipinos were born.
Based on latest figures released by the PSA, Popcom said the numbers are comparable to those in 1986, or almost three-and-a-half decades ago, and are lower than 2019’s (1.675 million) by more than 157,881, which posted a decrease in births by 9.43 percent, year-on-year.
The country also saw the lowest number of marriages in the last 20 years in 2020, as 240,183 couples wed last year: 44 percent fewer than the 431,972 who tied the knot in 2019.