Population and Poverty

Father Castro, a church executive, recently mentioned, “100 million population, it’s good for the economy. Ibig sabihin niyan meron tayong workers, hindi bad news ang population. Na brainwash tayo na malaking population is equated with poverty.”

100 million

This sentiment has been repeated by many; that the growing population is good for the economy and does not lead to poverty. Their logic is that the the more people, the more workers; the more workers, the better the economy.

There is some truth to the assertion that a fast growing population may lead to faster economic growth. Even the New York Times published an article by Floyd Whaley called, “A Youthful Populace Helps Make the Philippines an Economic Bright Spot in Asia.”

Although it is true that more people can produce more goods and services, leading to faster economic growth, the question we should ask is, “Who benefits from this kind of growth?”

About 1 million people enter the labor force every year, each one of them competing with each other and with existing employees for jobs. With such an abundance of labor, employers face very little pressure to raise wages. After all, if one person doesn’t want to work for next to nothing, there are hundreds of others lining up to apply for the same job.

To quote HSBC economist Frederic Neumann:

“The Philippines stands out as the youngest population. As other countries see their labor costs go up, the Philippines will remain competitive due to the sheer abundance of workers joining the labor force.”

In other words, the economy will grow rapidly precisely because wages will not.

Who will benefit? The rich who have an army of workers competing for a small number of jobs, willing to work for next to nothing just to stay alive, and Father Castro’s church which will gain legions of faithful poor.


  1. It is the Catholic church that benefited from a large population of devoted followers in the past and it is the same church that is bound to benefit more from an increasing number of people who will be baptized married and will die Catholics because they won’t know any other way of believing in something beyond what this religion says,

    Baptisms are a good source of income for the church especially if there are dozens of willing sponsors who are all too generous with their pooled payments for the ritual. So it is with marriages wherein envelopes are distributed to each sponsor who almost all the time grudgingly fill it with money they did not want to donate because they usually give gifts to the newlywed in cash.

    Death nowadays is the biggest source of income for the church since there are too many families now who can afford old style hearses pulled by SUVs while a band of musicians played in front. And to which generous payments for the last rites are guaranteed because the interment is in a mausoleum whose cost when it was built could house 12 to 15 families living in cardboard shanties., and the priest or church leader would not bother to ask where the money spent on such lavish structure came from.

    100 million is good for the economy of the institution that they serve, not for the economy of the country.

    Such statements could only come from people who are always looking forward to what they can collect and have a big part of, nothing more, nothing less.

  2. Let us remember that the Philippines has – if I am not mistaken – ten per cent of its population working and/or living overseas, under a programme brought in under Marcos (and set up well, by the technocrat Blas Ople) with the intention of mopping up underemployment.

    The social effects of a generation growing up in what are, for all practical purposes, “broken homes”, and the economic impact of the value added by all that labour remaining overseas, need to be included in any calculation.

    To this we may add the un-attractiveness of the Philippines as a place to invest – poor infrastructure, high energy costs, a capricious bureaucracy mean that ever were the bizarre Constitutional restraint on FDI to be lifted, multinationals will think twice before investing in the Philippines.

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