The National Academy of Science and Technology, Philippines (NAST PHL) held the Roundtable Discussion on Demographic Dividend and Employment on November 24, at Hotel Jen Manila. The RTD was organized by the Social Sciences Division (SSD) through Academician Arsenio M. Balisacan, focal person of the RTD and the government’s Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and Director General of the National Economic and Development Authority.

The RTD focused on human capital as the most significant resource of our country as well as the concepts “demographic sweet spot” and “demographic dividend”. Demographic Dividend is the decline in a country’s birth and death rates and change in the age structure of the population that will result in accelerated economic growth. This will cause the decline of a country’s young dependent population,making room for rapid economic growth while the demographic sweet spot is the period where optimal numberof the country’s population would be in the working age and have few dependents.

Ms. Jessamyn O. Encarnacion, director of the Philippine Statistics Authority-Makati, discussed information about the country’s population projection, which utilized cohort-component method and other means of population change such as births, deaths, and migration. Based on the 2010 Total Fertility Rate (TFR) of 3.125 children per woman, population is expected to grow to more than 142 million in 2045 even if there will be a decrease in the population growth rate from 1.73 percent in 2010–2015 to 0.65 percent in 2040–2045. Likewise, dependency ratio, defined as the ratio of dependents to the working age population, is also expected to decrease from 61.13 in 2010 to 48.15 in 2045.

Dr. Juan Antonio A. Perez III, executive director of the Commission on Population (POPCOM), discussed the demography aspect of the demographic dividend. Dr. Perez enumerated the stages of the Demographic Transition Model and stated that ‘demographic sweet spot’ will happen when these three events happens simultaneously: decrease in dependency ratio, increase in proportion of a productive working age, and when fertility declines.

Dr. Dennis S. Mapa, Outstanding Young Scientist 2008, dean and professor of the School of Statistics, University of the Philippines Diliman, talked about the Economic Aspect of the Demographic Dividend. Dr. Mapa discussed “The Goldilocks Period” or the generation or two in which fertility rate is neither too high nor too low. He emphasized that the government plays a vital role in creating the demographic dividend and mentioned that there should be a conducive “policy environment” for our country to “cash-out” in the demographic dividend. Dr. Mapa then stated that the the pronouncement that our country will enjoy the demographic sweet spot by 2015 is a myth because of the two major challenges that our country is yet to address—high fertility rate in households and high unemployment rate and poor quality of jobs among the youth population.

Dr. Geoffrey M. Ducanes, 2014 Outstanding Young Scientist and assistant professor of School of Economics, University of the Philippines Diliman synthesized the discussions while Ms. Rosemarie G. Edillon, assistant director-general for Policy and Planning of National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), served as the Master of Ceremonies and moderator. (Aislynn Fabiola G. Manuel)