Lowest population growth in 75 years attributed to pandemic anxiety

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 19) — The country is set to record its lowest population growth in 75 years as more Filipino couples are choosing not to have children due to the uncertainties brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, said the Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM).

In an online forum Wednesday, POPCOM Executive Director Juan Perez said the use of family planning has increased since 2020. He noted that in some areas, government health centers are running out of contraceptives such as pills and condoms.

The country’s population is expected to increase by just 0.3% or over 300,000 in 2021 — the lowest population growth in 75 years.

“Women are opting not to have children during this time when you have a health as well as an economic crisis,” Perez explained.

Millions have been infected with the coronavirus while poverty incidence rose to 23.7% in the first semester of 2021 from 2018’s 21.1%.

Psychiatrist Dr. Babes Arcena said added stress and anxiety brought about by the health crisis has also led to a lack of intimacy among many couples.

“Sexual intimacy is being taken aside because there are a lot of issues that you have to deal with,” Arcena said.

Experts also factor the fact that members of the family are spending more time at home. For some couples, this situation made it harder to find the right time for sex.

Parents also took on more responsibility in their children’s remote learning set up adding that to their daily grind.

“Parents assumed different roles so pagod na sila pagdating ng gabi so wala nang energy,” Arcena pointed out.

[Translation: Parents assumed different roles and they are extra tired by the end of the day and have no more energy.]

The POPCOM sees the slow growth rate as a good thing. They expect to see a sustained slow population growth even beyond the pandemic as the economic crisis will most likely take longer to be resolved.

“Increased family planning leading to lower population growth is actually what we were working for but around 2025 was when we thought it would happen. The COVID situation brought it on much earlier,” Perez pointed out.