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  • No Baby Boom: PH Childbirth Dropped To Lowest In 34 Years (Marriages Also Declined)

    Philippines seemed to defy "baby boom" outlook amid the pandemic
    by Angela Baylon .
No Baby Boom: PH Childbirth Dropped To Lowest In 34 Years (Marriages Also Declined)
PHOTO BY iStock
  • The "baby boom" projection did not happen based on the latest report of the Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM).

    In contrast to earlier outlooks, the Philippines saw fewer childbirths in 2020 during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, the country is experiencing the lowest birth rate since 1986.

    Registered births in 2020 came to 1,516,042, POPCOM said based on preliminary data as of June 2021 from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). (In 1986, childbirths numbered 1,493,995). Births in 2020 were also lower compared to 2019 figures when registered births reached 1.675 million.

    It was June last year with families forced to stay inside their homes due to quarantine measures when POPCOM said nearly two million women are expected to give birth in 2020.

    Undersecretary for Population and Development Juan Antonio Perez III admits that instead of driving up the number of childbirths, the pandemic's effect on healthcare access may have pushed Filipino women and families to delay having more kids.

    “What we feared at the onset of the pandemic did not happen...it is clear Filipino women are deciding to delay having children, and families are deferring, or avoiding, to have more kids, as they were made well-aware of the possible hardships and inconveniences in securing medical, as well as family planning services since the pandemic has severely impeded health care systems,” Perez said.

    But despite the situation in medical facilities, Perez reported that more Filipinos are using family planning services with 400,000 additional users in 2020.

    Aside from childbirth, 2020 also saw a decline in the number of marriages. Last year, only 240,183 couples tied the knot, the lowest in 20 years. The figure is also 44% lower than the number of marriages in 2019 when 431,972 couples said, "I do."

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    Perez said this slowing trend of pregnancies and marriages will likely be observed this 2021, given the Social Weather Stations’ November 2020 survey. It showed that unintended or unplanned pregnancies were among the major concerns of Filipino women in the time of pandemic.

    This proves to be correct as data as of September 2021 showed that 703,400 babies were born in the country from January to August 2021. Meanwhile, marriage is starting to pick up this year with 211,247 marriages registered so far in the same period.

    However, it is worth noting the possibility of delays in birth registrations, especially in the provinces where midwives may be experiencing difficulties reporting births due, still, to the pandemic.

    Perez then says that they project that population numbers will be back to normal post-pandemic. “Filipinos will eventually learn to live with Covid-19. As such, we may see increased births after the era of Covid, with family planning helping couples avoid unplanned pregnancies, unlike in the late 1940s and 1950s when there was no family planning program,” he said.

    POPCOM also ensured the public that it will continuously improve family planning services, saying that it "is just as vital in a health crisis, as it is a means to cope after the pandemic."

    This story was updated on October 25, 2021, 11:30 A.M.

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