IT will take three to four decades more before the Philippines becomes what is called “an aging society,” according to the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda).
In a budget hearing at the Senate on Monday, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan said an aging society means a country has more seniors compared to the labor force.
The median age of Filipinos is 25.3 years old, based on data from the 2020 Census of Population and Housing released by the Philippine
Statistics Authority (PSA).
“[Aging occurs] when you have all these above 60 will grow much faster than the working population,” Balisacan said. “That [aging Philippines] will take a long time. The median age now is just in the 20s, low 20s so we can worry about that three decades, four decades from now when we are much richer.”
The opportunity that a young population presents to economies, Balisacan said, is faster economic growth. Based on the history of the country’s peers, when they started reaping the demographic dividend, their economic growth increased by 2 to 3 percentage points.
Balisacan said this rate of growth was sustained not only for a number of years but at least two to as long as four decades, depending on the country.
“What’s happening now is, Mr. Chair, [what we call the] working age group is now growing faster, [it] started to grow faster than the overall population which means that in our population there are now more working class. Now, in the history of our neighbors, when that is happening, [that’s what they call the] demographic dividend,” Balisacan explained.
“Because that added additional growth to their GDP, usually in the order of another 2 percentage points or 3 percentage points apart from the usual sources of growth.
And that can fuel the country’s growth for several decades, two decades, three decades, four decades,” he added.
One of the conditions in meeting the demographic dividend is to have a low fertility rate, at least 2.1 percent which is considered as the replacement rate. This means an average of two children are born to every woman.
National Statistician Claire Dennis S. Mapa said the rate recorded by the country in the last Census of Population and Housing was 1.9 percent. This means, less than two children are born for every woman.
“Some of this can be explained by the Covid shock but we will have other data from our civil registration service, [our] vital statistics [so we can see] moving forward [if the] downtrend is going straight or still climbing slowly],” Mapa said, partly in Filipino.
National ID, surveys
Apart from the discussion on the demographic dividend, Neda and its attached agencies, which included the PSA, also gave updates on the National ID implementation.
Based on the presentation of Balisacan, the PSA was able to register 80.6 million Filipinos and distributed a total of 39 million National IDs and 40.8 million e-PhilIDs as of September 8.
Efforts to fast-track the printing of the National IDs, the PSA said, hinges on the commitment of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to implement a catch-up plan and deliver 94 million IDs by September 2024.
“The finish line is to register everyone, all Filipinos and to provide them with the with the ID. The ID could be in the form of physical card which is being printed by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas or in the form of ePhil ID or the digital ID that is being issued by the by the DICT,” Mapa said.
Mapa said this number indicates that the PSA has already registered around 81 percent of the country’s population aged five years old and above.
He said the data showed about 85 percent of the 15 years old and above have been registered and 65 percent of Filipinos aged 5 to 14 years old.
Meanwhile, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian sought the more frequent and granular conduct of the Functional Literacy, Education and Mass Media Survey (FLEMMS).
Currently, the FLEMMS is conducted every five years and covers national and regional data. However, Gatchalian is requesting that the granularity be extended to cities and municipalities.
The PSA and Neda responded that this can be included in the agenda for the next meeting of the PSA Board. Mapa noted that the more frequent conduct of surveys such as FLEMMS can be done as this was also done for poverty data.
This only means a higher budget given that more data need to be conducted. Mapa said the usual conduct of the FLEMMS costs P60 million and expanding this to cities and municipalities will mean a budget of P240 million.