Research Reports - Sources of Future Population Growth Framework

This framework analyzes future population growth in terms of the contributions of unwanted fertility, high desired family size, and population momentum. The analysis was undertaken to help sort out a number of issues confronting Philippine policymakers and to highlight the need for multiple approaches to moderate population growth.

The analysis revealed that, of the increase in population of 37.1 million between 1995 and 2020, 5.8 million is due to unwanted fertility, 6.7 million to high desired family size, and 24.6 million to population momentum. By 2040, the increase in population over the 1995 level is 57.8 million, of which 9.3 million is due to unwanted fertility, 10.9 million to family size preference , and 37.6 million to population momentum.

The analysis suggests the need for distinct policy responses to deal with the different sources of future population growth. First, with respect to population growth resulting from unwanted fertility, efforts are required to assist couples to achieve their fertility goals in ways that are safe, legal, affordable, and consistent with their moral convictions and religious beliefs. In the light of Philippine experience, a strengthened government-sponsored family planning program that is responsive to individual needs and that offers high-quality family planning and related health services should play a major role in these efforts.

Second, with respect to population growth resulting from high desired family size, efforts are needed to modify fertility preferences of couples toward a small family-size norm. Here a broader set of policies is needed to create socioeconomic conditions that favor smaller family size and greater human capital investments per child. In the light of recent Philippine conditions, special attentions should be focused on child health and survival, education and gender quality.

Finally, with respect to growth resulting from population momentum, by far the largest source of future population growth, some reduction could still be achieved by reducing the length of generations through delayed age at marriage or childbearing and through birth spacing. Greater investments in human development, particularly in basic education and employment opportunities for women, should play a major role in delaying the age at marriage and childbearing. Moreover, a responsive and high-quality family planning program could make birth spacing effective.

Understanding the distinction between the three sources of future population growth, in particular the distinction between unwanted and wanted fertility, could lead to a comprehensive population policy with wide popular and political support. Perhaps the most important question in the Philippine context is what ought to be the primary objective of the family planning program. In line with basic principles contained in the Constitution and in the Population Policy Statement of 1987, the family program should focus on achieving family well-being through the reduction of unwanted fertility, rather than on lowering national fertility levels through the reduction of unwanted fertility. From this shift in objective, a truly responsive program could evolve with wider support, since the achievement of desired fertility is more universally accepted than the reduction of population growth rates.

Source: Herrin, Alejandro and Marilou P. Costello. Sources of Future Population Growth in the Philippines and Implications for Public Policy.The Population Council. New York. 1996.