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Is Income Growth Enough to Reduce Total Fertility Rate in the Philippines? Empirical Evidence from Regional Panel Data

Mapa, Dennis S. and Lucagbo, Michael and Balisacan, Arsenio M. and Corpuz, Jose Rowell T. and Ignacio, Czarina Lei S. (2012): Is Income Growth Enough to Reduce Total Fertility Rate in the Philippines? Empirical Evidence from Regional Panel Data.

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The population debate in the country has been dynamic and contentious. On the one hand, proponents of population management say that the rapid population growth in the Philippines has hindered the country’s economic development. On the other hand, others are saying that population growth is uncorrelated with economic growth. The core idea behind the link between population and economic growth is the demographic transition. Demographic transition is a change from a situation of high fertility and high mortality to one of low fertility and low mortality. Advocates of speeding the demographic transition placed emphasis on the need of public efforts to speed up the voluntary reduction in fertility rates as rapidly as possible, arguing that demographic transitions, where they have occurred, have typically been accelerated and even triggered, by proactive government policies. Those that are against direct government intervention argue that fertility rates fall when income rises and therefore, policies to increase income should be the main concern. This paper looks at the relationship between per capita income and total fertility rate (TFR), controlling for other factors, using a regional panel econometric model using data from the National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS), Family Planning Survey (FPS), Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES), Labor Force Survey (LFS) and the Regional Gross Domestic Product (RGDP). The results show that increasing per capita income indeed reduces TFR but its impact is minimal and given that the country average per capita growth is low, it will take some time before the country benefits from the demographic transition through the income effect alone. The results of the analysis can also explain why the decline in fertility rate in the Philippines has been slower in recent times, lagging behind the significant changes in the international scene.

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