BELIEVE it or not, the country’s population will decline in less than a generation. This is according to the latest projections of the United Nations (UN) Population Division.

The latest projections, released last year, show the Philippine population will peak at around 135 million in 2060. From 2055 to 2060, the population growth rate will slow to just 0.05 percent from the current 1.9 percent. After that, the population will dip by 0.1 percent during the period 2060 to 2065.

The country’s headcount will go down to 134.8 million in 2065. That year, the median age will be at 42.6 years old, a clear sign of population aging.

The figures come from the “low variant” of the UN projections, which has historically been the “most accurate” according to the US-based Population Research Institute, a non-profit research group “whose goals are to expose the myth of overpopulation, to expose human rights abuses committed in population control programs, and to make the case that people are the world’s greatest resource.”

In the developed world, the problem is demographics, specifically aging populations and shrinking workforces that pose a threat to the global economy.

That is not yet a problem for the Philippines, which has been praised by three international publications for its favorable demographics. Last July 24, the Wall Street Journal even went as far as to warn that the RH bill could “put the Philippines in danger of following China’s path into middle-income development followed by a demographic trap of too few workers.”

The New York Times, meanwhile, cited researchers at HSBC, which had recognized the Philippines as one of the few countries expected to experience fast economic growth up to 2050 despite a growing population.

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“A high population growth rate, long considered a hindrance to prosperity, is now often seen as a driving force for economic growth. About 61 percent of the population in the Philippines is of working age, between 15 and 64. That figure is expected to continue increasing, which is not the case for many of its Asian neighbors, whose populations are aging,” the Times said.

The Times quoted HSBC economist Frederic Neumann, who said: “The Philippines stands out as the youngest population. As other countries see their labor costs go up, the Philippines will remain competitive due to the sheer abundance of workers joining the labor force.”

Early this year, Financial Times columnist David Pilling proclaimed the end of the demographic dividend that brought economic prosperity to Asia—except for a few countries “that can look forward to years of favorable demographics”—the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, and India.

UST economist Alvin Ang, former director of the Research Cluster for Cultural, Educational, and Social Issues, said the Philippines stands to benefit from a large workforce.

“Many developed countries don’t have this opportunity because they are over the demographic transition,” he said. ANDRE ARNOLD T. SANTIAGO

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