Policies to boost young people lead to economic growth

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – – Investing in the young paves the way to achieving demographic dividend through strengthening and adopting appropriate policies.
This was the highlight of a policy forum on the issue on demographic dividend that focuses on the young people who will soon be taking the lead, shaping the future and replacing the working and aging population.
The forum was spearheaded by the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) with the Sulong RH Project involving six areas including the provinces of Benguet and Ifugao in the Cordillera region.
Dr. Vicente B. Jurlano, National Programme Officer of the Population and Development United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) simply defined demographic dividend as saving and investment opportunity when households have fewer children to take care of.
To the Harried executive, it is an economic boost from a low dependency ratio.
To the policy-makers, it is a temporary acceleration of economic growth that occurs when a country’s age dependency falls during its demographic transition.
Demographic dividend came about in the last 20 years but there were many discussions, according to Jurlano.
Demographic dividend is equated to economic growth having ripple effects. This can only be achieved if there is change in the structure of a country’s population as a result of fall in fertility and mortality rates and increase in working population’s productivity. It can be found in savings, labor supply, human capital, and economic growth. But the most essential ingredient is political will and policy clarity, Jurlano said.
In the Philippines, “We are already in the stage but need to do better and the most important aspect in pursuing this is through political power,” Jurlano stressed as he commended the current administration’s strong support in the Reproductive Health/Family Planning (RH/FP) program.
“What we need to do as a country and enjoy the benefits soon is to come up with policies,” he said. It must strike a balance on the interplay of the proportion of dependent population as to how many mouths to feed as against the working population or the hands to work.
But it starts with investing on young people. It can last 50 or more years for the first dividend and the second period can last indefinitely as an aging population invests in various investment vehicles, added Jurlano.
In making all these happen, policies should be in place in various stages. In the person’s life cycle, Jurlano said there has to be policies in every phase such as early childhood development and child survival, and universal/quality education.
For the production process are policies for fertility decline, lowering of age dependency and economic dependency, growth in savings and investment.
An existing policy which needs to be strengthened is on teenage pregnancy and additional policies to strengthen pensions.
In the transition from school to work, there has to be programs to maintain skills, build additional skills, job search, professional development, personal development, community service, and family life, he added.
Policies per sector should also be in place such as employment, education, health, and empowerment.
Jurlano said the path to attaining demographic dividend is centered on the adolescent girls which starts from school to employment, reach adult marriage and have healthy children, security of place, work-life balance, with lifelong learning, t have wealth to be capable in investing in the child, and lastly, a secure old age.
Some key challenges to attaining the goal as presented by Commission on Population National Capital Region Director Lydio M. Español include slowing down of population growth based on Philippine Statistics 2010 records but the number of Filipinos is significantly increasing with almost two million per year.
Poor women have two children more than what they wanted though there is a decrease in the proportion of women aged 15-19 who have begun childbearing. There are inequities in nutrition and health outcomes, uneven access to education and low completion rate and high unemployment rate among the youth, Español added. **JDP/SCA-PIA-CAR, Benguet

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