PHL eyes demographic dividend, housing sector to spur growth

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

The Philippine economy is poised for a significant leap forward, with two main drivers at the forefront of its growth trajectory: the demographic transition and an ambitious housing build-up.

This perspective was outlined by NEDA Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan during the Philippine Economic Briefing for members of the Institute of Corporate Directors on February 27.

The demographic shift, characterized by a younger, working-age population, presents an opportunity for the nation to harness what is known as the demographic dividend. However, capitalizing on this potential requires substantial investment in human capital.

“We must ensure that our people are healthy, educated, and skilled to harness the demographic dividend. We will work to recover COVID-19-associated learning losses and invest in human capital as a foundation for a globally competitive workforce,” Balisacan emphasized.

Parallel to the demographic opportunity is the government’s robust initiative to bolster the housing sector, aptly named the Pambansang Pabahay Para sa Pilipino or 4PH Program.

This initiative is not only expected to catalyze growth in the housing sector but also to stimulate associated industries, creating a multiplier effect throughout the economy.

Balisacan pointed to the Philippines’ latest labor statistics as a promising sign, with the unemployment rate hitting a two-decade low of 3.1 percent in December 2023.

Equally important, efforts are being made to address underemployment and the quality of jobs, with the government facilitating investments that yield higher-quality employment opportunities.

“To sustain positive gains in the labor market and reap the demographic dividend in the next two to three decades, we need collaboration between the private sector, civil society, and local government units to address challenges in the education and health sectors,” Balisacan said, acknowledging the multifaceted approach required to elevate the workforce.

The commitment to the 4PH Program is also a commitment to improving the quality of life for many Filipinos.

Balisacan detailed the comprehensive support for the program, which includes ensuring the availability and affordability of construction materials, enhancing skills training for workers, and streamlining administrative processes.

“Our macroeconomic fundamentals remain sound and are expected to improve further. A growing labor force and the accompanying demographic dividend bode well for future growth,” he noted.