KORONADAL CITY Demographic dividend refers to the accelerated economic growth that can arise when there is a change in the age structure of the population. It occurs when the proportion of working people in the total population is high because this indicates that more people have the potential to be productive and contribute to the growth of the regional economy.

To determine whether the region is on the road towards gaining demographic dividend, the Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) engaged the services of the University of the Philippines – Population Institute (UP-PI) to develop demographic dividend estimates for Regions 3, 6, 12 and BARMM.

The objectives of the study are to calculate and analyze baseline estimates and to provide demographic analysis that could contribute to accelerating the harvest of the demographic dividend of the four regions.

The result of the study was presented to POPCOM XII and other Region XII stakeholders by Michael Dominic C. del Mundo of UP-PI during the dissemination forum on demographic dividend (DD) estimates on December 18 via videoconference.  Del Mundo shared that in the demographic dividend estimation study, the support ratio (SR) indicator is being used rather than the classic dependency ratio. The dependency ratio only accounts for the population age distribution, but it does not take into consideration the fact that not all those in the 15 to 64 population age group are economically productive. The support ratio takes into account that people earn and consume at different levels over their lifetime. In particular, working adults in the aggregate, produce more than they consume, while young children and the older groups consume more than they produce.

As presented, Region XII has a total of 4,409,702 effective consumers and 1,603,878 effective workers (2019-2020).  This resulted in a support ratio of 0.364 which is still way below the threshold of 0.5.  The SR result is interpreted as one effective worker supports around 2.75 effective consumers.

On labor and income, the average monthly labor income of the prime-age workers in the region is 20 percent, which is lower compared to the national average.   Fortunately, the labor force participation rate of the prime working-age group is relatively high at 80 percent.

As contained in the SOCCSKSARGEN Regional Development Report 2019, one major challenge identified was to maximize the gains on the demographic dividend.  The same was also identified in the current study. Specifically, these challenges include a high total fertility rate of 3.4 or above the 2.1 TFR target, and the adolescent childbearing rate was placed at 14.5 percent, and the third highest in the country based on the latest National Demographic and Health Survey of the Philippine Statistics Authority.

According to Del Mundo, Region XII’s support ratio revealed that the region has not yet been able to fully capitalize and create a demographic window of opportunity because economic resources are not free enough to go into savings and investments due to the relatively high number of effective consumers.   The window of opportunity from the demographic transition is closing fast, thus key policy reforms and effective policy implementation must be done by the administration to take advantage of the benefits brought by this transition.

The study recommended to increase the number of effective workers and decrease the number of effective consumers to create a larger demographic window of opportunity and accelerate the harvest of the demographic dividend in the region. (Evie Arabis Cabulanan, DRD/NEDAXII)