OFFICIALS of the Commission on Population and Development (PopCom) stressed the importance of enhancing the quality and capacity of the country's human resources to achieve rapid economic growth.

This is after a survey from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) revealed that the Philippines is now in a "demographic transition," or a situation where a country has a low level of fertility and mortality, stabilizing the population.

In a statement released Tuesday, November 29, 2022, Grace Cruz, the (PopCom) board chairperson, said the age structural change is a critical first step to rapid economic growth, given that there has to be a provision of the right social-economic policies.

Cruz said the pervading poverty in the country must be addressed to ensure human capital development.

Education reforms ensuring immediate recovery from the education gaps brought about by the pandemic must be prioritized to obtain skill development necessary for employment and increase productivity in the workforce, said Cruz.

She added that there should be programs emphasizing health, including the mental health of the population, such as addressing the increasing level of malnutrition, stunting, and obesity among Filipino children.

Also, Lolito R. Tacardon, Popcom officer-in-charge-executive director, said lower fertility also means greater opportunity for personal development of couples and individuals, which can redound to more savings and investments.

As stated in the PSA survey, the country logged a significant drop in the total fertility rate (TFR) from 2.7 children per woman in 2017 to 1.9 in 2022 between ages 15 to 49.

This is the Philippines' fastest fertility drop recorded in the last 35 years, which has been on a downward trend since the 1970s at six children per woman.

The same survey showed that one in two currently married women said they no longer desire more children, while 17 percent want to delay their next childbirths for two or more years, though the reasons behind their choices were not revealed.

The Philippines' latest TFR is now comparable to those of upper-middle income countries at 1.8 children per woman and Thailand at 1.5.

In the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) region, the Philippines has the third-lowest after Singapore's 1.1 children per woman. 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 per woman.

Also, the preliminary number of registered deaths from January to June 2022 only reached 262,945, lower by -32.1 percent than the total registered deaths of 387,287 in the same period in 2021. (HIC)