Tag Archives: Total Fertility Rate

Comparison of Economic Well-Being, Jobs and Fertility Rate: Philippines and Thailand

In the wake of another scam called the RH Bill to be rolled out by Noynoy and his merry Tongressmen and Senatongs, I figured that it would be best to let the numbers do the talking.


The poster boy of the pro-RH is Thailand’s because allegedly, the low Total Fertility Rate (TFR) was achieved by distributing artificial contraceptives funded by the Thai government.

The conventional wisdom is that “Thailand is one of the best examples of a family-planning success story where the fertility rate has dropped from more than 6.5 births to 2.1 per woman in 25 years through the use of contraceptives. The Thai government concludes that lowering the population growth rate enhances the prosperity of the nation. Also, individuals in Thailand have realized that having fewer children enhances the prosperity of their families.”

This notion is rife with a fallacy which presumes that “correlation implies causality”. The drop in Thailand’s TFR might be caused by contraceptives – but, it is not necessarily artificial contraceptives as the pro-Rh Bill will have us believe.

GDP Per Capita Income – PHL vs THA, 1960-2010

Before I get ahead of myself, it would be best to review the data on economic well-being as indicated by the GDP per capita income. In order to ensure that we are comparing apples to apples – the GDP per capita income is expressed in constant 2000 US$. The figures were gathered from the indexmundi website.

The table below compared the GDP per capita income of the Philippines and Thailand from 1960 to 2010.

A review of GDP Per Capita (in constant 2000 US$) of PHL and Thailand will show the following:

1. Philippines GDP Per Capita was higher than Thailand’s GDP Per Capita from 1960 to 1984.

2. Philippines GDP Per Capita was lower than Thailand’s GDP Per Capita from 1985 upwards.

Note:  Philippines lost a major source of FDI – when US Parity rights expired in 1974 – but PHL GDP Per Capita was still higher than THA during the period.

For roughly the same period – 1970s to 1984 – Thailand had suffered from many economic problems – – ranging from decreasing American investment, current account deficit, a sudden rise in oil price to inflation.

3. Philippines GDP per Capita greatly reduced after EDSA ’84 – from 1984-1995 – GDP per capita was at $994 to $982 – similar to 1975 (a setback of 10 years) – PHL constitution restricted FDI to not more than 40% and embedded welfare programs in the constitution.

For the same period 1986-1997 – Thailand opened its economy – and had a boom in FDI – as Japanese FDI poured into the country

4. When the Asian Financial Crisis took place in 1997 to 2000 – Thailand pursued strict fiscal and financial policies and reduced government spending – the Philippines increased government spending

While the Philippines and Thailand both pursued subsidies – Thailand also pursued Free Trade Agreements. The Philippines however maintained its economic xenophobia and limited free trade to export processing zones only.

As of 2010, the CIA reported that Thailand’s Gini coefficient (income inequality) is 42- lower than the Philippines’ 44.

Unemployment Rate: Thailand versus Philippines

The outcome of economic policies when measured in terms of unemployment shows stark contrasts as shown in the table below.  Thailand showed lower unemployment rates even at the height of the Asian financial crisis.

In 2010, Thailand had unemployment of only 1.04% while the Philippines had 7%. As of 2012 – the Philippines still has 7% unemployment rate.


Total Fertility Rate: Thailand Versus Philippines

Both Thailand and Philippines had high TFRs. The gap between the TFR of both countries did not exceed 2, from 1955 to 1985 as shown in the table below.

From 1985 to 2005 the gap in the TFR of THA and PHL was greater than 2. This coincides with the period when Thailand liberalized its economy, attracted more FDI, and

The gap returned to less than 2 from 2005-2010.

The figures were gathered from the United Nations data website.

Comparison: GDP Per Capita, Unemployment, and TFR: Thailand versus Philippines

At this point, we bring all the data together and connect the dots. The table below combines the jobless rate, GDP per capita, and Total Fertility Rate of  Thailand and the Philippines.

Jobless Rate, GDP Per Capita, TFR: Philippines vs Thailand

What are the numbers telling us?

1. Philippines had higher GDP per capita and higher TFR than Thailand from 1960-1984

Despite Thailand’s spending on contraceptives in 1960s  – fact remains that PHL still had higher GDP per capita than Thailand from 1960-1984 – even if Thailand had lower TFR :)

2. Philippines had lower GDP per capita and higher TFR than Thailand from 1985 to 2010 – Thailand had higher GDP per capita after it opened its economy – and Japanese FDI boomed.. leading to a more abrupt drop in TFR

3.  TFR dropped abruptly as Thailand’s unemployment dropped during the period when Thailand opened its economy and attracted more investments.

4. Philippines TFR is also decreasing – even without an RH bill.

5. The higher TFR of the Philippines is also consistent with the findings that when women have limited opportunities except to raise a family, TFR will be high. Corollary to this is the experience of the Asian tigers that when women have jobs TFR drops abruptly.

What this shows is that jobs lead to an increase in GDP per capita. Lower TFR did not lead to an increase in GDP per capita  since THA ALWAYS had lower TFR than PHL  but had lower GDP per capita before it opened its economy.

TFR and GDP per Capita

The pro-RH conventional wisdom is that lower TFR leads to higher GDP per Capita. The statement is proven falsebecause there are countries with high TFR and still have high GDP per Capita and there are countries with low TFR and have low GDP per Capita.

This means that TFR does not explain why countries have high or low GDP per capita – and is therefore irrelevant to improving the quality of life of Filipinos.

If it’s not TFR – the question becomes what other factors have an impact on GDP per capita?

There is already a lot of literature on this matter – which the pro-RH bill continue to evade. For example, a peer-reviewed study on economic freedom, per capita income, and economic growth by Sadequl Islam shows that:

Based on cross-section data, this paper explores the relationship between economic freedom and the economic performance of low, middle and high income countries.

The regression results show that there is a direct relationship between the economic freedom index and per capita income in low income countries and all countries as a whole. The evidence also indicates that there is a direct relationship between the economic freedom index and the growth rate of per capita income in high income countries and all countries as a whole.

The Japanese experience of the dearth in birth rates is even more telling, as reported by The Economist:

From the start of the Meiji period in 1868 Japan’s population rose for about 70 years. During that time Japan cast off its isolationist feudal system, opened its borders and started its headlong rush to industrialisation. Then, in the 1950s, fertility started to plummet. Since the 1980s, when the birth rate fell below 1.5 children per woman, Japan has, in effect, had a one-child policy—though, unlike in China, it was self-imposed.
the cost of weddings may be the least of the reasons why the Japanese are increasingly putting off marriage or avoiding it altogether. One weightier one is that employment rates among women have increased but private companies implicitly discourage mothers from returning to their old jobs.

Noynoy and the his merry Senatongs and Tongressman are clearly bent on passing an RH bill instead of opening the economy – and let jobs function as natural contraceptives.

Obviously, there is money to be made on awarding government contracts for the procurement of artificial contraceptives. That money however will not go to the pockets of the people who need it most – the jobless, the underemployed, the poor.



Population Control or Effective Governance?

Mahirap aminin pero sa banyagang lupa ko lang naramdaman na importante ako bilang isang nilalang. Hindi sikat ang mga bansang napuntahan ko pero ang gobyerno nila, ginagawa ang lahat para sa kapakanan ng mga mamamayan. Maayos ang mga manggagawa mula opisina hanggang basura. Walang suhulan, walang kama-kamag-anak, walang kaibi-kaibigan, walang pakikisama o utang na loob system, walang kupit, walang suhol, walang tamad, walang nagmumura, walang basurang nakakalat kung saan saan, walang patayan at walang nakawan dahil sigurandong huli at mananagot sa batas. Kahit saan ka magpunta may resibo, may security camera, maayos na daan para sa mga matatanda o mga taong may natatanging pangangailangan at tamang sasakyan, may pila, may disiplina at may tulungan. Hindi man sila perpekto, nagnignibabaw pa rin ang salitang RESPETO sa bawat isa. DISIPLINADO ang mga tao dahil malupit ang batas. Walang angal ang mga tao at walang angal dahil maganda ang SERBISYO PUBLIKO. Naiiyak ako sa tuwa dahil ngayon ko lang naintindihan ang salitang HUMAN RIGHTS. Hindi ito paggamit ng ibang tao, paglikom ng kayamanan, matinding pagtitiis sa mabagal na sistema, malupit na karanasan sa maruming lipunan o pagbigay ng pera para makuha mo ang gusto mo o pagtakpan ang maitim mong budhi kagaya ng nakita ko sa sarili kong bansa na ipinapalabas araw-araw sa TV, pelikula at balita dahil yan lamang ang mga bagay na naiintindihan ng mga tao at alam nilang gawin.


While family planning is a good way to improve the situation of Filipino families, i.e., parents will have the change to spend more quality time to each family member or decreased consumption (of food and other resources) due to less demand, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the only way to solve the Philippine economic and social turmoil. I believe that effective governance and leadership by example are what we trully need. It pains me to think that the morality of Filipinos continuesly subsides since people are not given the services and rights they deserve. Instead, their living has become survival of the fittest because the government does not provide things and opportunities the people could enjoy but rather fight for everything to the extent of  expoliting the weak and violating other’s human rights. Therefore, if the nation’s population is not the source of problems, what are we missing? The article below provides us a clear understanding of why Filipinos don’t really need free condoms… but for the solutions, I beleive that positive change should really start from the leaders. It’s just hard to expect the citizens to do what a country really needs if the people who represent and govern it are providing misinformation and only showing injustices, unlawfulness, unfairness, lack of discipline, lack of transparency, lack of public concern, corruption, greed and selfishness.


The RH Bill Quackery

There are many myths and quackery being peddled by the pro-RH lobby. As Lagman, Santiago and company rehash the arguments for another useless tax-wasting welfare program – it’s good to spot the myths – and counter them with solid arguments based on empirical data, facts, and reason.

Daang matuwid to joblessness, hunger, and poverty for the many.

Review of Population, Population Density, Population Growth Rate – and GDP Per Capita Income

Prior arguments used population size, population growth rate, and population density – and were effectively demolished when it was shown that:

In terms of population:

1. There are countries with higher population than the Philippines and richer than the Philippines – Japan, USA, Indonesia

2. There are countries with lower population than the Philippines and poorer than the Philippines – North Korea, Haiti, Benin

In terms of population density:

3. There are countries with higher population density than the Philippines and richer than the Philippines – Singapore, HK, Monaco, Taiwan, Israel, South Korea, Mauritius

4. There are countries with lower population density than the Philippines and poorer than the Philippines – North Korea, Nepal, Liberia, Somalia

In terms of population growth rate:

5. There are countries with higher population growth rate than the Philippines and richer than the Philippines – Singapore, Bahrain, Qatar, Brunei, Israel, Australia, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates

6. There are countries with lower population growth rate than the Philippines and poorer than the Philippines – Guyana, North Korea, Bangladesh, Haiti

References to the country listings are provided further down below. As an exercise, feel free to add to the countries which meet the conditions enumerated above.


For the more scholarly readers – the study of Wong and Fumitaka on “The Relationship Between Population and Economic Growth in Asian Economies” concluded that

Generally, the results of the Johansen (1988) and Gregory and Hansen (1996) cointegration methods show that there is no long-run relationship between population and economic growth.

Nonetheless, the study finds that there is bidirectional Granger causality between population and economic growth for Japan, Korea, and Thailand.

For China, Singapore, and the Philippines, population is found to Granger cause economic growth and not vice versa.

For Hong Kong and Malaysia, economic growth is found to Granger cause population and not vice versa.

For Taiwan and Indonesia, there is no evidence of Granger causality between population and economic growth.

On the whole, the relationship between population and economic growth is not straightforward.

Population growth could be beneficial or detrimental to economic growth and economic growth could have an impact on population growth.

TFR (Total Fertility Rate): More RH Bill Quackery

The latest addition of the pro-RH quacks has been to use TFR or the Total Fertility Rate. Let’s see what trends we can find based on TFR.

7. There are countries with higher TFR than the Philippines and richer than the Philippines – Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Jordan, Tajikistan, Mauritania, Vanuatu

8. There are countries with lower TFR than the Philippines and poorer than the Philippines – Pakistan, Laos, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Uzbekistan,

The trends in TFR follow the conclusions of Wong and Fumitaka – there is no straightforward relationship between TFR and economic growth.

A review of the TFR of the Philippines Vietnam, Singapore, and Thailand show that TFR has already been decreasing even without massive public spending.

More Misinformation by RH Bill Supporters

The latest misconception being peddled by the pro-RH is that decreasing TFR causes economic growth. While this allegation has been refuted above, it is still worth knowing the errant variants of the pro-RH position so that you will recognize it when you see it. Here goes

  • * Thailand and China decreased their TFR sharply and then they became gradually richer and continuing to be rich.
  • * Vietnam has been decreasing its TFR sharply to less than 2.1 and is now increasing its GDP per capita and will soon bypass the Philippines.
  • * Singapore’s GDP per capita increased sharply between 1960 and 2010 in the meanwhile that Singapore’s TFR dropped to less that 2.1 and continue to be below 2.1.

The Central Fallacy of the RH Bill Position: Correlation does not imply causation

The argument presented by the pro-RH is a logical fallacy called cum hoc ergo propter hoc (Latin for “with this, therefore because of this”) and false cause. Just because two events occured together (decrease in TFR and increase in GDP per capita income) does not necessarily imply a cause and effect relationship.

A similar fallacy is that an event (increase in GDP per capita) that follows another (drop in TFR) was necessarily a consequence of the first event, is sometimes described as post hoc ergo propter hoc.

The general pattern of the faulty reasoning of the pro-RH supporters can be described as:

A occurs in correlation with B. Therefore, A causes B.

The reasoning is faulty because the conclusion about causality is done prematurely and it is taken for granted that A causes B, even when no evidence supports it.

The reasoning does not recognize that there are other possibilities such as:

1 – A third factor, C that may actually cause A and B.
2 – A may aggravate B or A may indeed cause B
3 – B may aggravate A or B may cause A
4 – There is a complex relationship between A, B, and C
5 – The “relationship” is mere coincidence.

For short, just because A and B occur at the same time – does not mean that one causes the other.

Establishing Causality

To establish causuality one uses the Granger causality test and convergent cross mapping. Wong and Fumitaka, for instance, used Granger causality.

Granger causality is a statistical concept of causality that is based on prediction. According to Granger causality, if a signal X1 “Granger-causes” (or “G-causes”) a signal X2, then past values of X1 should contain information that helps predict X2 above and beyond the information contained in past values of X2 alone.

While Granger causality has limitations when using three or more variables – it works quite well with two variables. Thus one can submit A (TFR, population, population density, population growth) and B (gdp per capita income, gdp growth, gdp) to Granger causality analysis and predict that if A happens then B happens or vice versa.

As we have shown in the prior review – the GDP per capita income cannot be predicted on the basis of TFR, population, population density, population growth rate – because GDP per capita can be low or high regardless of the population indicator. However, we can accurately predict, with certainty that as economic freedom increases GDP per capita income increases.

Addressing the Popular Misconceptions of RH Bill Supporters

Having laid down the conceptual basis for proving that the RH Bill position is severely flawed and totally erroneous, let us now look at the popular misconceptions peddled by its supporters.


In Thailand – the main proponent was Mechai -aka Mr condom.

The experience of Mechai was that contraceptives were widely adopted when the grassroots themselves sold the contraceptives. In a nutshell – the people profited from the sales of contraceptives. By getting people themselves to generate revenue from contraceptives sales – there was widespread adoption of contraceptives.

Contrast that to the Philippines Rh Bill. The PHL government – proposes to pay for the contraceptives. This means people will not profit from it. The approach was tried in 1970 with an aggressive program implemented by the PopCom – the outcome was that:

1 – The government paid for the contraceptives.
2 – The people sold the government contraceptives to the boticas.
3 – Population remained high.
4 – Filipinos remained POOR.


Just because the Philippines has TFR above 2.1 does not mean that TFR has not decreased. Philippines’ TFR is still decreasing even without government spending.

It has been noted that TFR decreases when economies transition from agrarian to industrial. Even if Singapore was not an agricultural country – it had levels of poverty akin to an agrarian economy. And therefore to hedge against poverty, Singaporeans had more children.

In the 1960s Singapore, like other ASEAN countries, had a mercantilist protected economy and its citizens had high poverty. During those times Singapore looked a lot like Divisoria – one big ghetto. Poverty came with high mortality rates – thus parents had more children to offset the losses due to mortality.

Singapore experimented with population control programs in the 1960s and 70s – but eventually repealed it in the mid 80s because the falling birth rates led to a demographic winter. Singapore reversed the Stop at Two policy, abolished the Family Planning Board and now encouraged larger family sizes of three or more. Go Chok Tong, Lee Hsien Loong exhorted Singaporeans to procreate.

The government also relaxed its immigration polices – leading to higher population growth! As of 2011, Singapore has yet to reach the replacement level of 2.


The poster boy of population control has been China and its one child policy.

History shows however Mao condemned birth control and importation of contraceptives. In 1949, Mao said that “Of all things in the world, people are the most precious”. Hu Yaobang, secretary of the Communist Youth League also said that “a larger population means greater manpower”.

The rhetoric was good – but the socialist economic policy of collectivism and centralized economic planning wreaked havoc leading to a massive famine that lead to the deaths of at least 30 million Chinese. Instead of opening the economy, China’s communists opted for the “Late, Long, and Few” which ended up in the one child policy. Well, China had lower population but the Chinese were still poor. The policy was also limited to the Han Chinese living in urba areas. Citizens living in rural areas and ethnic minorities are not subject to said law.

There is also a special provision which allows millions of couples to have two children legally. If a couple is composed of two people without siblings, then they may have two children of their own, thus preventing too dramatic of a population decrease.

It was during the time of Deng Xiaopeng when China actually experienced a change in living standards. Deng set the standards for the current Chinese leadership by shifting the focus from Maoist leftist rhetoric towards the Four Modernizations Era. The change was baed on the principle that it was more important to innovate, to improve efficiency of agriculture, industry, reasearch and development than to achieve the socialist objectives of Mao.

Today China faces a demographic winter, an aging labor force – a country that aged before it got wealthy. Many childless Chinese now face the grim prospect of getting old without having any children to take care of them. Those with one child aren’t any better as they face the “empty nest” syndrome – one or both parents living by themselves after the children have left the home.

As the new Chinese generation have more economic opportunities due to economic liberalization, more and more people in China prefer to have fewer children if none at all. There’s also the bleakness of Chinese males not being able to find wives as female fetuses were aborted leading to a gender imbalance.

Clearly China has not learned the lessons of Singapore and Japan and the Western economies who are also facing their own demographic winters.

The Philippines’ Prospects for Poverty Reduction and the White Elephant in the Room

Here’s an Engilish idiom that Noynoy Aquino and the RH Bill supporters ought to learn. “Elephant in the room” is an English metaphorical idiom for an obvious truth that is either being ignored or going unaddressed.

What can we learn from the experiences of China, Thailand, Singapore, the western economies – and Wong and Fumitaka?

If we truly wish to learn the lessons of history in order not to repeat the mistakes of the past, here are some points to think about:

The demographic transition can work for or against the Philippines.

In a previous blog post entitled “The Demographic Transition: Driven by RH Welfare Programs? Or Economic Transformation?”

a jobless if not underemployed large population ain’t exactly much of a consumption dynamo. Sure it can consume – but does it have the money to afford what it wants to consume? Is the economy conducive to generating jobs that allow said demographic to consume? Or shall it just lead to a young demographic – jobless, underemployed and hungry.

The Philippines TFR (and global TFR) is already decreasing – with or without public spending. The pro-RH lobby will point out that the Philippines TFR is not decreasing enough to get to 2.1 . But is the TFR really to blame for this poverty? Is it really the root cause?

Some would claim that the Philippines economic growth is “surging” – and yet TFR is still high. I say – is the “growth” really a “surge”?

The latest value for GDP per capita income (constant 2000 US$) in Philippines was 1,383.40 as of 2010. Over the past 50 years, the value for this indicator has fluctuated between $1,383.40 in 2010 and $691.68 in 1960 – barely 2-fold.

In the same 50 years the GDP per capita income (constant 2000 $US) has fluctuated between $32,536 in 2010 and $2,253 in 1960 – roughly 16 fold.

Is Growth Inclusive When there is High Income Inequality?

When we add the GINI coefficient we will find that the Philippines has high income inequality. The Philippines’ very own NSCB reported that:

Income inequality has been a long lasting development challenge for the Philippines. In a statement released by the National Statistical Coordination Board in 2005, it was recognized that the income gap between the rich and the poor was wider in the Philippines than in Indonesia and Thailand, indicating serious inequality in the distribution of the country’s economic gains.

Philippines has a Gini coefficient of 48 in 2000 – as compared to neighbouring developing countries in the ASEAN region like Thailand (43 in 2000), Vietnam (37 in 2002), Lao PDR (37 in 1997), and Indonesia (34 in 2002) – Philippines actually ranked as one of the worst income distributions compared with its neighbouring countries.

It is noted that the income of the Philippines’ richest ten percent of the population was in fact twenty times the income of the poorest ten percent.

What then could be the proverbial “white elephant” in the room? Was it contraceptives doleouts that led to the growth? Was a reduction in TFR the cause of the growth? Or was it something else?

Learning the Lessons of History

The empirical studies and indicators have shown that:

1. Economic policies which provide opportunities for women to have careers other than raising a family lead to an abrupt drop in the TFR. If Juan can’t get laid becaue Maria is working how exactly will Maria get “knocked out”?

2. Countries with higher economic freedom have higher GDP per capita income. In terms of economic freedom, in 2012 the Philippines is ranked 109 out of 187 countries – mostly unfree.

3. Countries that have agrarian economies have high TFR because children are seen as a source of “free labor”. The Philippines is still primarily an agricultural country with most Filipinos still living in rural areas and supporting themselves through agriculture. Farming, fisheries, livestock and poultry, and forestry employ 39.8 percent of the labor force and contribute 20% of GDP.

4. When countries shift from agrarian to industrial economies – children are seen as an expense and family sizes reduce abruptly within a generation.

What are we missing?

Noynoy recently increased the number of businesses included in the Foreign Investments Negative List.

Aquino has also declared that he is not in favor of removing the protectionist provisions of the constitution.

The investment policy of the Philipppines is quite clear – to foreign investors who are not willing to fork the 40% which will subsidize the 60% of Aquino’s cronies while using 100% of the foreign investors’ ideas – the door is closed. The door has been slammed in the face, by Aquino’s cronies – not just against  foreign investors but also to Filipino consumers and Filipino job-seekers.

Meanwhile, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, China continue to rake investments in. Their population growth is aided by the emigration of the Philippines best and brightest.

And the best option which the Philippines Congress can offer to alleviate poverty is a pathetic contraceptives doleout. And that’s without prejudice to a leaky CCT subsidy program and a bloated pork barrel whose outcomes are stagnant employment, widening underemployment and hunger.

It does not help that the opposition to the RH welfare program in the Senate is that of an effin Senatong who does not know how to recognize data sources and who inserted an online libel law into what otherwise would have been a handy piece of legislation that protects private property. It also does not bode well that the bulk of the opposition to this obviously flawed RH bill are the minions of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Opposing the RH bill boils down to this – do not control the population size with a taxpayer-funded contraceptives doleout whose supplies will be sourced from Aquino’s cronies. Open the economy instead and provide women with alternatives to raising a family.

To answer the question “what are we missing” – a whole lot!



List of Countries by Population

List of Countries by Population Density

List of Countries by Population Growth Rate

List of countries by GDP Per Capita
List of Countries by Total Fertility Rate

Granger Causality


Source: http://antipinoy.com/the-rh-bill-quackery/