PSA: Pandemic uncertainty a reason for lower births
MANILA, Philippines — The prolonged COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainties it wrought have been delaying many couples’ plans to have a child and led to the sharp decline in births during the past two years.
Citing a report of the Philippine Statistics Authority’s (PSA) civil registration service, National Statistician Dennis Mapa on Friday cited four reasons why registered births dropped 8.7 percent to 1.53 million in 2020 from 1.67 million in 2019.
For one, Mapa pointed to “changing behaviors of couples opting to delay pregnancy due to the pandemic.”
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua told the Inquirer on Friday that he and his wife themselves postponed having another baby. Chua has one son, born in 2016 — the year he entered government service as undersecretary at the Department of Finance (DOF). He was appointed as National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) chief in 2020 when former secretary Ernesto Pernia, a reproductive health advocate, resigned.
“It’s how couples choose to plan their families, and avoid the hassle of the pandemic and quarantine,” Chua said.
Chua’s a hands-on father as he attends his son’s online classes. The Neda chief has been pushing to resume face-to-face classes as distance learning was subpar.
Another pandemic-induced reason for lower births was that some parents were unable to immediately register their newborn child due to movement restrictions aimed at containing COVID-19. “This will be captured in the late registration of births” data, Mapa said. To recall, the Philippines in 2020 imposed one of the longest and strictest lockdowns in the region, if not the world.
Also, Mapa said the decrease in marriages was another reason for the lower births.
The PSA reported earlier this month that the number of registered marriages in the country fell to 240,775 in 2020 — the lowest in 50 years.
Couples’ use of modern family planning methods also reduced births, Mapa said.
The Reproductive Health Law was aimed at slowing down the birth and fertility rates among Filipino women to control the ballooning population.
Separate PSA data had shown that the number of registered births from January to November 2021 slid 23.8 percent to 1.08 million from 1.41 million during the first 11 months of 2020.
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