November 28, 2022

FILIPINO women have become less fertile to the point that the country’s population could start shrinking, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said on Monday.

The average number of children born per Filipina ages 15 to 49 years fell to 1.9 last year from 2.7 in 2017, the PSA said in a statement detailing preliminary results of the 2022 National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS).

“Hence, the Philippines is already below the replacement fertility level of 2.1 children per woman,” the agency pointed out.

The replacement level — the 2.1 is for developed countries — refers to the level of fertility at which a population exactly replaces itself from one generation to the next.

The fertility rate was higher at 2.2 children per woman in rural areas compared to 1.7 for women living in urban areas.

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Among adolescents, fertility was at 25 births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 19, the PSA said. The number peaked at 105 births per 1,000 among women ages 25 to 29 and “decreases thereafter.

“Fertility has generally been declining among all age groups since 2008, the PSA said, except in younger and older women ages 15-19 and 45-49, respectively.”

Specifically, fertility rates for women ages 20 to 24 years steadily declined from 163 births per 1,000 women in 2008 to 84 births per 1,000 women in 2022. This was also observed in women ages 25 to 44 years,” the agency said.

Women were also asked in the survey whether they wanted more children and — if so — how long would they like to wait before the birth of the next child.

About half or 48.8 percent of currently married women ages 15 to 49 replied that they wanted no more children.

This was also the case among women who were sterilized or whose husbands were sterilized.

The percentage of women who wanted no more children was higher at 72 percent among those with six or more living children. It was a significantly lower 4.3 percent among those with no living children.

Nearly 14 percent wanted to have another child within the next two years while 17.4 percent wanted to wait at least two years. Moreover, 0.2 percent wanted another child but had not decided when and 8.1 percent were undecided about having more children.

The 2022 NDHS polled 27,821 women ages 15 to 49 from 30,372 households, the PSA said.

A comprehensive analysis of the survey results will be presented next year, it added.