Thursday, September 18, 2008

In Response to Expectorants' Condominiumized

In response to Resty O's Condominiumized series. All data culled from official documents published by the NSO, NSCB, PopCom and UPPI.

On "overpopulation."

The number of people inhabiting a finite space with finite resources only matters when the finite space and resources are not managed well. The Earth can only be called "overpopulated" when it can no longer sustain the population. Even regenerating resources, such as agriculture, can fail due to mismanagement or natural calamities. Given that the Philippines' annual population growth rate of 2.06 (average 2000-2007) remains constant, it is projected our population will rise to over 140 million. This is not a problem if along with the population growth we experience a sustainable growth in the economy that would support this number of people. But the economy has been very sluggish in comparison to our neighbors. If we look at the agriculture sector alone, which employs 36 percent half of the working-age population, the future looks grim.

Nowhere does it say in HB 5043, that the Philippines is "overpopulated."

"Our population growth rate of 2.04% is extremely high. The CIA gives a much lower estimate of 1.728% (World Factbook Country Listing of 2008, available on the internet)."

And of course we will believe the estimates of the CIA over Filipino demographers and statisticians who are working here.

"We should aim for a Zero Population Growth Rate."

The bill does not suggest a target population growth rate. Our lobby's budget advocacy aims to eliminate "unmet need," i.e. the number of mothers who say they want to space children or stop having children but are unable to because they do not have access to family planning methods and commodities and/or do not have resources to acquire them.

There is a 15.7 percent "unmet need" among married/in union women of reproductive age (15-64) in the Philippines.

On the number of children

The Philippines' total fertility rate, i.e. the average number of children per couple is 3.5. Desired fertility rate on average is 2.5. What difference can one more child make? According to studies a lot. The table below is taken from "Poverty, Vulnerability and Family Size: Evidence from the Philippines" by Aniceto C. Orbeta, Jr. ADB Institute Discussion Paper No. 29, June 2005.

This table shows that the more children there are in the family, the higher the higher the incidence of poverty.

You can read the rest of Orbeta's analysis here.

While the bill suggests having 2 children, this suggestion is in no way coercive. If a couple think they can support 10 kids, they will not be penalized for their choices.

FACT: 20.1 percent of currently married/in union women of reproductive age are already having 2 kids anyway. 17.9 of them have 3 (NDHS 2003).

On Poverty

This country is poor (by poor I mean 1 in 4 Filipinos is going hungry involuntarily). A growing population is not the cause of poverty. Poverty is caused by many, many things. I believe my search for these factors are well-documented in this blog over the years. However a growing population makes those who are already poor suffer more. It also perpetuates the cycle of poverty from once generation to the next. Once you are born into a family with scant resources, what are the chances of you making out of poverty yourself?

Picture a family of 10, the young couple with 8 kids living on the father's minimum wage. P300++/ day divided by 10 = P30 per person? In this instance, how can the mother not make her children work as well? That is why you see them begging on the streets instead of studying in schools. Should the mother work as soon after giving birth to her youngest, who will take care of the brood? If she does not work, then she has no money of her own and is completely at the mercy of her husband. What if their marriage is less than ideal?

On Development

I am re-posting my response from part of my latest entry at Filipino Voices.

What is the impact of the reduced population growth of other countries on economic development?

Reduced population growth coupled with an outstanding development policy environment produced the “East Asian miracle” something that has eluded the Philippines, even while it is geographically in the region. Lower dependency ratios, a large working-age population and a growing economy resulted in rapid economic development.

South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, and Thailand are among the first group of less-developed countries (LDCs) to achieve low total fertility rate (TFR) in the world. From the 1960s onward, these countries abandoned the idea that a large population was a source of strength. This assumption was replaced by the idea that population growth was an impediment to development goals.

Between 1975 and 2000, Thailand’s per capita income grew to eight times, Indonesia 6.5 times and South Korea 10 times. The Philippines could only manage 2.6 times but it had the highest population growth rate among the three at 2.36 percent a year on the average.

The East Asian miracle can be attributed to these countries taking advantage of their ‘demographic dividend’ or the rise in the rate of economic growth due to a rising share of working age people in a population. The demographic dividend was made possible by reduced fertility.

The East Asian demographic transition of the past fifty years is the fastest demographic transition to date. Modern transitions are faster because countries gain the benefit of knowledge, experience, or technology developed by others.

The Philippines has a large working-age population, but why does this not translate into economic growth?

While the Philippines has a large working-age population, the dependency ratio is equally high. Moreover, not all who belong to the working-age group are gainfully employed.

For every 10 working adult, there are 7.2 dependents. There are 51 million Filipinos of working age (15-64 years old). Of these 4.1 million are unemployed and 10 million are underemployed.

“Demographic dividend” (or the rise in the rate of economic growth due to a rising share of working age people in a population) does not occur automatically. It is achieved through the right combination of national policies. Without the right policy environment, it is possible that the Philippines will miss the opportunity to secure growth.

The demographic dividend is delivered through three main mechanisms - labor supply, savings and human capital.

As long as the labor market can absorb the labor supply, per capita production increases. Sluggish economic growth unable to absorb new labor will lead to a large unemployed/underemployed working-age population.

A large working population encourages the growth of savings, improving the overall prospects for investment and growth in the country. However an economy unable to generate wages that exceeds subsistence levels is not likely to generate savings.

A working population able to save will invest in education and health - essential investments in human capital. The long-term gain is a society that is more productive, promoting higher wages and a better standard of living.

The three mechanisms of demographic dividend – labor supply, savings and human capital – are all highly dependent on the national policy environment.

On the role of the Church

"The Catholic Church is not concerned with the plight of the poor in the country."

Mary Racelis to Bishop Bacani, Ateneo Development Society Forum, 2 Fridays ago: "If the church is so supportive of natural family planning father, why are there no services teaching them in parishes?"

Bishop Bacani: (stoic face.)

On the safety of pills, condoms etc.

This is the WHO report quoted by CBCP when they say pills are carcinogenic. In bold caps the report reads "ORAL CONTRACEPTIVES INCREASE RISK OF SOME CANCERS AND

I don't know if Resty has ever bought condoms. They usually say they are only 96% or so effective. The instruction leaflet also informs the user of how the condom might be damaged etc.

On Thailand. In 1991, HIV/AIDS infection among the adult population peaked at 143,000. The aggressive promotion of condom use initiated by the government was a direct response to the epidemic focusing on the country’s prostitution industry. At one point condom use among sex workers was at 96 percent. At present there are an estimated 580,000 adults who are infected with HIV/AIDS.

Strong government support decreased the prevalence of HIV/AIDS significantly among adults, reducing the rate from 30 percent in 1994 to 12 percent in 2003.

On Semantics

The motive of couples of practice natural family planning as well as modern methods is one and the same. Prevent pregnancy.

At this point I'm getting more and more annoyed with what Resty, an old blog buddy, has posted on his blog.

I will finish this post once I have cooled down some.

But on the point of age-appropriate sex education for young adults from Grade 5 and up, this is what I have to say.

I went to the committee hearing discussing the proposed Anti-Child Pornography bill. Horror of horrors, child porno, filmed here and starring Filipino children, are openly sold in places where anyone can buy DVDs.

Pro-life solon Rep Zialcita, in a sneering and condescending voice asked "Sa tingin n'yo makakatulong ba ang sex ed ng Rh bill na yan?"

Rep. Custodio-Antonino responded by saying they are actually considering lowering the age for much younger kids. To teach them not about the intricacies of kama sutra but to teach them what sex is. To teach them about their sensitive body parts and about what is inappropriate interaction with adults.

We are dealing here with realities other people live through. Let's pull our heads out of our asses and open our eyes. Please.

To be continued....

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