Relative Economic Decline and Unrealized Demographic Opportunity in the Philippines
The paper examines the long-run relationship between demographic and macroeconomic development trends in the Philippines, and compares trends observed in that country to trends in eight regional neighbors in East and Southeast Asia. The Philippines stands out from these countries in that available data suggests the country has completed its demographic transition to a much lesser extent than comparison countries. Analysis of trends shows that the Philippine economy has lost ground to the country's neighbors over the past 50 years, and that its unfulfilled demographic transition has played a key role in explaining the country's relative economic decline. The paper reviews established economic theory and a few simple counter-factual simulations to explain and support this conclusion. The authors also consider the relationship between demographic trends and associated economic developments, and the political situation in the country. Despite discouraging findings regarding the Philippines' relative economic decline, the paper notes the country's more favorable performance in social development vis-à-vis its neighbors. The paper ends on an optimistic note, pointing to: recent economic reforms, the unrealized potential of a 'demographic dividend,' rising demand and use of modern family planning among Philippine households, and the favorable long run outlook for Philippine Overseas Contract Workers, as causes for optimism regarding future demographic change and the country's economic prospects.
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