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Historical and Projected Population of the Philippines Under Different Growth Scenarios (1900-2100)

Article Index

 The graph shown here is part of a series of investigations that address the questions:

  • Is the Philippines growing too fast?
  • As an ecosystem, is the Philippine population and growth rate sustainable?
  • What is the carrying capacity of the Philippines? 

The United Nations projections, UN-2012 PHL 2010-2100 [HF] (filled yellow circle in Fig. 01), still show a linear stage of the growth population curve by 2100, and the UN-2012 PHL 2010-2100 [CF] (filled red in Fig. 01), still show an acceleration stage of the population growth curve by 2100. Both the growth patterns are much higher than the historical population growth of the Philippines based from actual Philippine Census data up to 2010. More detailed analyses would support the proposition that both the UN-2012 PHL 2010-2100 (HF) (light yellow filled circles) and the UN-2012  PHL 2010-2100 (CF) (light red filled circles) growth scenarios are not consistent with the present population growth trend in the Philippines.  Further, they are not likely to be sustainable considering the land area of the Philippines.

We provide supporting observations also to indicate that the UN-2012 PHL 2010-2100 [HF] (filled light brown circle in Fig. 01)  -- showing a  deceleration phase to almost zero growth rate between 2055-2065 with a peak of 137.35 million in 2060, and subsequent negative growth stage thereafter -- may not be a likely growth scenario for the Philippines. 

The UN-2012 PHL 2010-2100 (MF) (light green filled circles) growth scenario is already at the deceleration stage of growth although the plateau and peak stages appear to be after 2100; however, the peak population for UN-2012 PHL 2010-2100 (MF) would be below 200 million if the growth trend continue after 2100. Among the UN population growth scenarios projected for the Philippines, the UN-2012 PHL 2010-2100 (MF) (light green filled circles) would be the most likely or perhaps the desired population growth curve of the Philippines that may be likely sustainable.

However, there is uncertainty as to when the peak population would occur and the maximum value of the Philippine population.  In a separate investigation, based on the land area of the Philippines, a peak population of 200 million Filipinos in the Philippines would be equivalent to a world population of 100 Billion.


Historical and Projected Population of the Philippines Under Different Growth Scenarios (1900-2100)
Fig. 01. Historical and Projected Population of the Philippines Under Different Growth Scenarios (1900-2100)LegendsNSCB Census data (dark blue filled with yellow circles), hereafter referred to as NSCB CensusNSO PHL 2000-2040 Population Projections (light yellow filled with red circle) hereafter referred to as NSO PHL 2000-2040NSO PHL 2010-2045 Population Projections (light green filled with violet circle) hereafter referred to as NSO PHL 2010-2045;  US Census 1950-2050 Philippine Population Projections (light violet filled circles), hereafter referred as US Census PHL 1950-2050UN 2012 Philippine Population (1950-2010) Estimates (light blue filled circles), hereafter referred to as UN-2012 PHL 1950-2010UN 2012 Medium Fertility (2010-2100) Philippine Population Projection (light green filled circles), hereafter referred to as UN-2012 PHL 2010-2100 (MF)UN 2012 High Fertility (2010-2100) Philippine Population Projection (light yellow filled circles), hereafter referred to as UN-2012 PHL 2010-2100 (HF)UN 2012 Low Fertility (2010-2100) Philippine Population Projection (light rust yellow-brown filled circles), hereafter referred to as UN-2012  PHL 2010-2100 (LF); and, UN 2012 Constant Fertility (2010-2100) Philippine Population Projection (light red filled circles), hereafter referred to as UN-2012  PHL 2010-2100 (CF)
Inset A. A full version of the graph showing the highest values by 2100 for the UN-2012 PHL 2010-2100 (HF) (light yellow filled circles), and, the UN-2012  PHL 2010-2100 (CF) (light red filled circles). However, the peak population value for both the UN-2012 PHL 2010-2100 (HF) (light yellow filled circles) showing linear growth rate, and, the UN-2012  PHL 2010-2100 (CF) (light red filled circles) showing the acceleration phase of growth remain undetermined until each reach the deceleration and then plateau stages of growth as shown in the UN-2012  PHL 2010-2100 (LF)  (light rust yellow-brown filled circles).  


UN-2012  PHL 2010-2100 (LF) 

The UN-2012  PHL 2010-2100 (LF)  (light rust yellow-brown filled circles) growth scenario reached the plateau stage between 2055-2065 and a peak population value of 137.35 million by 2060. There are already known negative impacts of negative growth rate revealed in many Western and developed countries. Foremost is the deficiency in productive workforce to manage and serve as workforce of the nation.  For richer countries, this is partly resolved through importation of labor from other countries but these have both positive and negative results for both host country and imported labor force. These issues are too complex to explore here and would be discussed separately.

Apart from the negative impacts, the UN-2012  PHL 2010-2100 (LF) projection may not be a likely scenario for the Philippines for the time period involved. Unlike China, it is unlikely that a "one-child policy will be imposed in the Philippines. In fact, the cultural desire to have a boy and a girl as offsprings is entrenched in the Filipino family culture, and lead to three or more children until the "other" gender is born in the family. Unless there is a significant shift in the Filipino psyche, this cultural desire to have a boy to carry the family name as well as have a girl also, would not favor lower growth rates.

Culturally,  family planning and birth control may be more widespread now in the Philippines, thanks to the dedication of biomedical and social groups and organizations concerned about Philippine population explosion.  However, perhaps because of religious beliefs and other Filipino values, it is not as common for Filipinos to terminate a pregnancy by abortion.

 While the population growth rates of the Philippines may decline in the future, Fig. 02 does not indicate a scenario that would simulate a UN-2012 PHL 2010-2100 (LF)  (light rust yellow-brown filled circles) population curve.

UN-2012 PHL 2010-2100 (HF) and UN-2012 PHL 2010-2100 (CF)

More detailed analyses would support the proposition that both the UN-2012 PHL 2010-2100 (HF) (light yellow filled circles) and the UN-2012  PHL 2010-2100 (CF) (light red filled circles) growth scenarios are not consistent with the present population growth trend in the Philippines.  Further, they are not likely to be sustainable. These will be explored further in separable discussions. 

Culturally, with the liberation of the Filipina (women) [and to an extent Filipino (men)] from traditions and cultural expectations, Filipinos now have more leeway in their more choices -- including whom they marry, when to marry, defer marriage or not to marry, as well as have a say in family choices and expectancies -- have significant impact in reducing family sizes. Further, while same sex orientation and relationship have been generally acceptable in the Filipino culture; Philippine laws now also legalized same-sex relationships in spite of the strong opposition of the Catholic church hierarchy.  This frees a significant proportion of Filipinos from entering into sham marriages, and while same-sex oriented Filipinos are not biologically incapable of having children, in general they may not participate in procreation of their own offsprings, or may consider adoption as an option.

It is not uncommon in the past to have families with a child born every year and have a dozen children. However, the current family size is down to 4.6 per household; a clear sign that the growth rates and thus the population growth would not be consistent with a linear, UN-2012 PHL 2010-2100 (HF) (light yellow filled circles); and, most definitely not an accelerating population growth projected by  UN-2012 PHL 2010-2100 (CF) (light red filled circles).

Thus, while still quite high and still almost linear, Philippine population growth is trending to slow down, albeit very slightly. This is reflected also in the population projections --compare the reduction from the earlier NSO PHL 2000-2040 (light yellow filled with red circle) to the latest NSO PHL 2010-2045 (light green filled with violet circle).  Also, the US Census (filled violet circles) projected that the Philippines should have reached a population of 100 million by 2010. Instead, the 2000 Philippine Census estimated only just above 92 million, a difference of 8 million from US Census projection.  It was projected, based from the latest 2000 Philippine Census that the 100 million milestone would have been reached only near the latter part of 2014.


 UN-2012 PHL 2010-2100 (MF)

The most likely Philippine population growth scenario therefore would be more like the projected population growth curve in UN-2012 PHL 2010-2100 (MF) (light green filled circles).  However, there is too much uncertainty in the growth rate trends (Fig. 02) from previous Philippine Census to project a more exact time frame or the value of the peak population before the decline phase initiates, following the UN-2012 PHL 2010-2100 (MF) population growth scenario.  

Using the UN-2012 PHL 2010-2100 (MF) (light green filled circles) projection, the Philippine population growth iss already at the deceleration stage of growth although the plateau and peak stages appear from the projection to be after 2100; however, the peak population for UN-2012 PHL 2010-2100 (MF) might be around 200 million if the growth trends continue after 2100. This would be consistent with our own population growth models presented in an introductory article.


Historical Population Growth Rates of the Philippines
Fig. 02. Historical Population Growth Rates of the Philippines. The population growth rates of the Philippines have been trending down since 1970.  However, rather than a predictable trend, it may rise or fall as shown between 1903-1970. The coming to reproductive stages of the Post World War II generation may explain the 1960s increase in growth rate.  Will this explain also the further growth rate in 1970? Did the American Occupation of the Philippines from 1898-1940 (just up to World War II) repressed population growth rate?  Census is not an exact science. How much did this contribute to the almost "unchanged" growth rates between the adjacent 5-year census from 1970?


Reviewing the UN-2012 PHL 2010-2100 (MF) projection data, the annual growth rate would be down to well below 1.0% by 2050 and well below 0.3% by 2080. As configured, the peak population would be reached when a zero population growth rate is achieved. [The numbers cited are raw year-to-year calculation of population growth rates. A more precise calculation of the growth rates will be provided in the future.]

These growth rates are well below the Philippine 2010 Census growth rate of 1.90% [Fig. 02].  It will require major socio-cultural changes among Filipinos to achieve such low levels of growth rates.



The choice of the terms, Medium Fertility, Low Fertility, High Fertility and Constant Fertility may not be the most apt to use in relation to population growth. While fertility is a major factor, other factors birth rate (influence by fertility), mortality, life expectancy, political, socio-economic and cultural factors impact population growth.

The meddling of the Catholic Church hierarchy in loudly voicing its views on fertility and when life is actually conceived has a significant impact on the high birth rates in the Philippines. It was only recently that a Reproductive Act has been approved by the Philippine Bicameral Congress with full support by the Aquino administration, in spite of the vehement opposition of the Catholic Church hierarchy.

Limits to Growth

It would not be surprising that the growth rates would go down in time -- increasing population would put pressure on land resources needed for human habitation, food production, transportation, commerce, industry, social and civic activities.  However, since land resources are finite, the lands used would come either from existing food production areas and forest lands.  

The conversion of agricultural and forest lands for use in other human activities is most evident in the National Capital Region (NCR) Megalopolis area -- comprising the contiguous regions of Metro Manila (NCR), CALABARZON and Central Luzon (blue region of the pie graph in Fig. 3a) -- where more than 34 million (37.3%) of the more than 92 million Filipinos reside (as of the 2010 Philippine Census).  If the National Capital Region (NCR) Megalopolis were a separate country, it would be the 35th largest country in the world in terms of population -- larger than Canada, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, larger than many of the ASEAN countries, except Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand, larger than any of the Scandinavian countries, any Central American and Caribbean countries and more. 


Percent (%) Population of Megalopolis areas in the Philippines
Fig. 03a. Percent (%) Population of (Informal) Megalopolis areas of the Philippines.  The National Capital Region (NCR) Megalopolis (blue in the pie graph) comprise of the contiguous regions of Metro Manila (also known as NCR), CALABARZON and Central Luzon. The Northern Luzon Megalopolis (green in the pie graph) comprised of the regions of Ilocos, CAR and Cagayan Valley. The Visayas Megalopolis (orange in the pie graph) comprise of the regions of Western, Central and Eastern Visayas. The Mindanao Megalopolis (red in the pie graph) comprised of the lands historically settled originally by Muslim Filipinos -- Zamboanga region, Northern Mindanao region, Davao region, SOCCSKSARGEN, CARAGA and ARMM. Migration and settlement of Visayans, Ilocanos and Tagalogs in Mindanao is akin to the American settlers occupying the historic lands of Native Americans. This was compounded by the land acquisition during the American occupation of the Philippines. The two other regions Bicol and MIMAROPA, are lumped together (yellow in the pie graph) but do not really form a cohesive megalopolis.  Details for the individual regions are shown in Fig. 03b.
While the Northern Luzon Megalopolis are geographically contiguous, the mountainous CAR and scarcity of direct connecting roads isolate the three regions from each other.  What is common among the three regions is that the Ilocanos from the Ilocos region migrated to Cagayan Valley and CAR and became a significant if not the dominant ethnic groups in some parts of the other two regions. Further, the Northern Luzon Megalopolis is becoming a significant source of food and natural resources for the National Capital Region (NCR) Megalopolis, as many of the agricultural lands and forest areas of Central Luzon and CALABARZON are being converted to meet the increasing urbanization of many of the areas in the  National Capital Region (NCR) Megalopolis.



Percent (%) Population of the 17 Regions of the Philippines
Fig. 03b. Percent (%) Population of the 17 Regions of the Philippines. The data used here (and in Fig. 03a) was from the Philippines 2010 Census. Since then, almost another 10 million Filipinos would be added by middle of 2015. Each region and each province would  have centers of urbanization at the expense of agricultural and forest lands being converted for housing and other human activities.




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Historical and Projected Populations of the Philippines,1900-2150, Philippines, Filipinos, Historical data, population projection, Populations, Sustainability, Population density, carrying capacity, Philippine population growth, land use, food production, resource allocation, unemployment rate, pollution, traffic congestions, housing problems, high cost, food, water, transportation, sociological impacts, crowding US Census, Statistics, Pien, National Statistical Coordination Board, NSCB, Bureau of Labor and Employment Statistics (BLES), Bureau of Agricultural Statistics, BAS, Philippine Statistics, PSA, Cornelio Gacusana Caday, CGC, Kalikasan-Philippines,, Ecosystems Research and Management Center, ERMC,

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 Caution in using population data:
The available (public) internet data from the Philippines Statistics Authority (PSA) and the related agencies (see tags) tend to be years behind; and, the links to specific data are not stable; thus, are not cited here. In the case of the US Census population data, the information has not been updated for many years now, as it has been in the past. For example, the Philippine population projection data from 1950-2050 does not reflect the most recent census of the Philippines since 2010 and earlier decades.