On economic growth and social reforms as population growth control measures

I understand why GMA isn’t for the RH Bill. I think religion if it comes in at all as her reason would only place second. She is an economist and I think economics is behind her top reason. How? Karl Marx contends that population growth is the result of poverty, resource depletion, pollution and other social negativities and the corollary of it is if people are treated justly and exploitation and oppression eliminated population growth will slow down. On another note, economist Julian Simon insists that population growth is actually beneficial because more people means larger markets, more workers, and so efficiencies of scale. In other words, level up GDP growth rate to 100x that of population’s. Having an undergrad in economics myself I totally agree with these.

But.

There are three basic assumptions made when doing economic calculations: one people are rational beings, two, there is perfect information (i.e. the right information is available to the producer or consumer whenever it is needed) and three, there are no fortuitious events. In reality, irrational behavior is the rule rather than the exception and information is withheld, distorted, late, imperfect. My point is, if only the assumptions hold true in the real world – here in the country – we should’ve surpassed Singapore in economic stature yesterday. All Filipinos should’ve been affluent, supposedly happy, and sophisticated in both tastes and knowledge. Population should’ve started to decline with everyone having on their own volition the happy and bright idea to just have one or two children (I’ve this theory based on observation that the happier you are – from having say a million peso savings stashed in the bank or in short the future’s more secure because of it – and the nicer your home environment the lesser your desire for a larger number of children (unless you’re into using children to make a political statement). Filipinos joke about couples in areas without electricity – and there are many areas still (I’ve slept in these areas because of work and god I spent nights wondering how families there can live without electricity – who had nothing to do beyond 6 PM after they had dinner but turn in early and make babies. We laugh at it but it’s true, and unjust in the sense that we who have the best in life define what good and bad is for these people but forgot that basic things such as electricity are not enjoyed by these families. I bet if they had electricity they’d spend more time reading than on baby making).

It was in 2000 when this country supposedly had attained the “Philippines 2000” developed economy/country status. We didn’t. What happened? Information needed by decision-makers didn’t arrive on time or if it did it was the wrong one. Everybody wanted the big slice of the pie and no one’s giving in. People taking to the streets for EDSA II or was it III? Decentralization which was thought to be the means to move the growth agenda forward on the ground turned out for the most part a playground of colonialism in new forms. Having decreased poverty incidence in one area, there seems to pop out ten times that number in other areas and so on. Things that were identified as belonging to the control group turned out not. And while backs are turned to the experiment, it’s the population that has leap-frogged leaving behind the economy which for its part managed to crawl up by some inches.

China took a more stringent measure, putting in place the controversial one-child policy at the same time working out its economy by quantum leaps. The controversial policy aside, the point is the Chinese government recognized that in order for it to make headway in economic progress it has to “lighten the load” that a large population bears on its economy / resources.

On the social side, specifically social reforms, the speed at which LGUs are taking to attain to cite one example 100% universal health insurance coverage is indicative of the dire consequences of allowing population to grow at an unsustainable rate. If economic growth rates persistently do not meet desired levels (despite direct measures to amp it up) we should suspect that other things are at play.

GRDP Region 8.

Like an overloaded vehicle going uphill, it can’t go as fast relative to another which has kept its load within limit or even lesser. Something has got to give (I heard this term from a consultant and loved it at once). And what has to give considering the country’s slowness to institute reforms (economic, political, social) is population growth rate. Unless it’s the economy you want to put on birth control. The road that we would want to take is one toward an economic growth rate that would catapult this country into a developed country and while at it a manageable population growth rate. Let the good Bishops stay where they are if they wish – after all poverty is one of their vows (although what poverty in there really means is poverty of spirit).

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