Commentary: Philippines' declining fertility will be a problem for the global economy

„It's a big bonus,” he told me. „Unfortunately, this will not last long. In the Philippine context, it will last one to two decades. The second dividend can only be reaped if the country can make this group more productive by investing in the quality of the workforce.

While it is time to dispel stereotypes of Filipinos with large families, there is also an urban-rural divide. The Manila region saw its total fertility rate drop to 1.2, well below the national figure, while the autonomous region of the southern island of Mindanao stood at 3.1.

One of Manila's largest maternity hospitals, Dr. „People are more aware of their chances,” explained Carmela Aquino-Cabral, a fertility specialist at Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital. „There's more to life than being a mom.”

Ground combat is very important. One recent morning, I accompanied a group of volunteers from the Ligon Center for Women's Health to Tondo District, one of the poorest areas of the capital. The paths were narrow and muddy. meat and fish cooked in open ovens; Children scattered as parents or grandparents leaned outside the windows of makeshift shops.

We were just a few kilometers away, and a world away, beyond the glass towers, fashionable cocktail bars and five-star hotels of the Makati enclave. It's a regular beat for Capello and his three colleagues.

These women are at the foot of a demographic revolution that is gaining converts in droves – they believe. „I share my own experiences, I use the pill,” Capello said. „In the long run, people will trust us.”

There are no easy solutions for developed countries that rely on imported labor. Strengthening tertiary education and vocational training is vital, as is addressing poor pay and working conditions for professions such as nursing.

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For its part, the Philippines must tread carefully – it still has a long way to go before becoming an aging society, but there is always the risk of over-correction and, like others in the region, being left with its own labor shortage. .

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