The Philippine population will grow by 85 percent in the next six decades, according to a forecast of a United Kingdom-based international accounting and finance firm.
The country will experience the largest population increase in the Southeast Asian region in that period, with an additional 82 million people, said the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) in a December report, “Economic Insight: Southeast Asia.”
“This increase should boost growth and safeguard the region’s competitiveness at a time when the working-age population begins to shrink in China and is already doing so in Japan as well as in some European countries,” the ICAEW analysis said.
The ICAEW, however, does not see the boom in the Philippine population as a bane for the economy.
“The increase will make the country an attractive base for manufacturers,” it said.
But the firm cautioned policymakers that raising output in a country’s overall production couldn’t rely on population growth alone.
“Productivity is crucial as well, and one way to raise productivity is by moving up the value chain from labor-intensive manufacturing to high value-added goods as well as business and financial services,” it said.
The Philippine population as of May 2010 stood at 92.34 million, according to the National Statistics Office.
Boom and boost
The Philippines and Malaysia are the only countries in Southeast Asia that will see a population boom in the next 60 years, according to the report.
It said Thailand would see its population peak in about two decades, adding only about
5 percent to its number of inhabitants over this period.
The ICAEW projections were based on each country’s policies and programs on family planning and immigration.
For the entire Southeast Asian region, the ICAEW projected population to rise by around a quarter from the current 600 million to a maximum of about 760 million in 2057.
Excepting the Philippines and Malaysia, which are forecast to experience population booms, most Southeast Asian countries are seen to benefit from a “demographic dividend.”
A demographic dividend occurs when falling birth rates change the age distribution of a country so that fewer investments are required to meet the needs of the younger, dependent sector of the population. This frees up public resources for investment and allows living standards to rise.
Douglas McWilliams, ICAEW economic adviser and chief executive of the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), noted the economic and political progress in the Philippines, which he attributed to President Aquino.
“The clear election victory of Benigno Aquino promises political stability, which will encourage investment and consumer spending,” he said.
He cited the signing in October of the framework peace agreement to end the Muslim insurgency in Mindanao as another boost to the economy this year.
Produced by CEBR, ICAEW’s partner and forecaster, and commissioned by ICAEW, the report presents a current snapshot of the Southeast Asian region’s economic performance.
The ICAEW produces quarterly reviews of Southeast Asian economies, with a focus on Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.