Western Visayas nears ideal fertility replacement rate

By Mariela Angella Oladive

The Western Visayas region has achieved a fertility rate of 2.2 in 2022, approaching the optimal replacement level of 2.1, as reported by the latest data.

The Commission on Population and Development (CPD) said this is a ‘very healthy’ indicator of progress in reproductive health and family planning methods.

CPD Undersecretary Lisa Grace Bersales, speaking at an award ceremony, elaborated on the significance of the fertility rate statistic.

Bersales said that it signifies “on average, every woman entering reproductive age has 2.2 children,” which she humorously compared to 10 women bringing 22 children to a party.

CPD-Western Visayas Director Harold Alfred Marshall pointed out the transformation in women’s reproductive choices since the 1970s when the average was six children per woman.

“Women now have more control over the number of children they desire,” Marshall said, crediting improved access to family planning services.

Marshall underscored the importance of the 2.1 replacement level for maintaining demographic equilibrium and its implications for economic and social stability.

“Should a woman pass away, having at least two children ensures population replacement. We are nearing the replacement level (2.1), but the 2.2 is still very healthy,” he said.

He warned against falling below the replacement level, as it would pose a challenge to sustaining the economy without new births.

“We should maintain and sustain this (2.2 fertility rate) level because if it goes lower than the replacement level, it would mean that there are no longer enough people being born, then who will sustain the economy if there are no longer any new births?” he added.

Marshall emphasized the essential role of consistent access to family planning resources in maintaining demographic balance and called for continued efforts to preserve a balanced fertility rate.

The National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) has documented a decline in the total fertility rate among Filipino women aged 15 to 49 from 2.7 in 2017 to 1.9 in 2022, as defined by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

As defined by the PSA, total fertility rate represents the average number of children a woman would likely have by the end of her childbearing years if she gave birth at the current age-specific fertility rates.