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Country in Focus: Philippines

Posted by feww on April 17, 2008

Philippines population climbs as food problems worsen

Philippines Facts


  • 93,411,554 (FEWW August 2008 est.)
    92,681,453 (CIA World Factbook July 2008 est.)
  • The population grew at a rate of 2.34 percent annually between 1990 and 2000, and by than 2.04 percent since 2000.
  • The population growth rate for 2008 could be as high 3.4% (see FEWW calculations)
  • The population reached 88.57 million in August 2007 (census), up from 76.5 million in 2000.
  • The average population growth rate in Asia is 1.1 percent (UNPF).

Politics and Religion and Politics

  • Philippines is the biggest Catholic nation in Asia.
  • In Manila, the capital, the conversion of agricultural land for property development has been halted to meet the food needs of the nation.
  • The church forbids artificial birth control.
  • President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo came to power in 2001 with the backing of the Church.

The Economy

  • About 36 percent of the population are poor and the numbers of poor is growing faster than the population.
  • Recent government data revealed that 28 million people subsisted on less than $1 per day in 2006 (up 16 percent from 2003). Report
  • Estimated per capita GDP: $3,300 (Rank: 159th) 2007
  • Unemployment rate for 2006: 7.9 percent
  • Labor in agriculture: 36 percent (2003 estimate)

Population below poverty line

  • 36% (2008 est.)
  • Household income or consumption by percentage share:

    • lowest 10%: 2.4%
    • highest 10%: 31.2% (2006):

Armed soldiers deployed as security escorts during rice distribution, watch a large crowd of residents waiting to buy cheap priced government rice outside the National Food Authority warehouse in Manila on April 11, 2008. A senior UN official visiting Manila said April 11 that food riots from soaring food prices have hit 33 countries and warned that the Philippines, one of the world’s largest rice importers, could be next if the government mishandled the issue. Meanwhile the International Rice Research Institute warned that rice prices are likely to keep rising for some time as production fails to keep up with soaring demand.
4:25 a.m. ET, 4/11/08.
Photo Credit: ROMEO GACAD / AFP/Getty Images – Image may be copyrighted. See FEWW Fair Use Notice. (Caption: MSNBC)


  • Total area: 300,000 sq km
  • Land: 298,170 sq km
  • Water: 1,830 sq km

Land Use

  • Arable land: 19%
  • Permanent crops: 16.67%
  • Other: 64.33% (2005)

Freshwater Withdrawal (Domestic, agricultural, industrial)

  • Total: 28.52 cu km/yr (17%/9%/74%)
  • Per capita: 343 cu m/yr (2000)

[Note: The Philippine archipelago is made up of 7,107 islands; favorably located in relation to many of Southeast Asia’s main water bodies: the South China Sea, Philippine Sea, Sulu Sea, Celebes Sea, and Luzon Strait]

Environmental issues

Uncontrolled deforestation especially in watershed areas; soil erosion; air and water pollution in major urban centers; coral reef degradation; increasing pollution of coastal mangrove swamps that are important fish breeding grounds. (Source: CIA- The World Factbook)

Comments by EU External Relations

The Philippines is ranked as a lower Middle Income Country, but is beset by extreme inequality of wealth distribution. While the Philippines is not a poor country, it is nevertheless a country with a lot of poor people: about [36] % of its total population, some [33] million people, live below the National Poverty Line. The country has not achieved sufficient economic progress over the past decades to substantially reduce poverty, due mainly to high population growth, lack of employment creation, rampant corruption, feudal politics and insurgencies, one communist-inspired, the other triggered by Islamic separatism. Combined with the lack of a national policy to slow its 2.3% annual population growth, its ability to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is seriously compromised. The Philippines lags economically behind the rest of the region and has recently been facing a severe fiscal crisis, with the highest deficit in the region of 5 % of GDP. At the same time it needs to service a national government debt of 78% of GDP The Philippines is witnessing an erosion of confidence in elected government and political institutions, coupled with a feeling of impotence to achieve substantial change towards a more equitable distribution of wealth. Although some measures to redress the fiscal balance have been taken, more economic reforms are necessary to sustain the momentum.

The main challenges for the Philippines are to:

  • reduce poverty through stronger job creation and better access to services, especially social services, as well as to employment and income earning opportunities for the poor;
  • achieve a more equitable distribution of wealth through economic, social and political and reforms.

Related Links:

14 Responses to “Country in Focus: Philippines”

  1. […] Country in Focus: Philippines […]

  2. feww said

    Please see FEWW Editorial Policy.

  3. Maddog said

    [Comment edited: FEWW]

  4. Maddog said

    [Comment edited: FEWW]

  5. edro said

    By all means, if you prefer history to science, go ahead and use the historical population figures (and growth rates) for the Philippines!

    Why must anyone create undue anxiety for the Filipinos by telling them the true figures, when you could pluck out anything from the archives?

    – In 1903 the population of the Philippines was recounted by American authorities at 7,635,426 people, including 56,138, who were foreign-born.
    – In 1939, according to census, the Philippine population was 16,000,303.
    – In 1941 the estimated population reached 17,000,000
    (source: Wikipedia)
    Between those figures you should be able to work out an “accurate” population growth rate [and never mind the dates!]

  6. Maddog said

    Terres said: “The problem? Unfortunately, the two statements are conflicting.”

    That admission is itself a reason to doubt either of the figures. Your calculations based on these are therefore just as unreliable.

    The UN data seems far more accurate since it uses data gathered over time, which shows trends. The UN Population Division has more resources and experience than the NSO. It is also less influenced by Philippine politics, where population is a political issue. I would therefore go by their numbers which show far lower population growth levels. The most accurate is probably the UN medium variant figure of only 1.90%.

  7. terres said

    Maddog – The Moderators believe the figures at are inaccurate.

    Why? Because their data is old; it incorporates figures from censuses 1995 and 2000.

    CIA’s “Factbook” estimate of 92,681,453 (July 2008 est.) is in the ballpark because it is consistent with the general pattern of growth since 2000.

    We have qualified our own estimate by saying that “the population growth rate in 2008 could be as high as 3.4%.”

    Where do we go from here?

    1. The Philiphines National Statistics Office reported the annual population growth rate at 2.04 per cent between 2000 and 2007. We have no reason to believe their statement is incorrect.

    2. According to August 2007 census the population reached 88.57 million. We have no reason to believe the census was wrong, either.

    The problem? Unfortunately, the two statements are conflicting.

    If statement #1 is correct, then the 2007 population should be 90,488,269, [not 88,574,614 as reported in the census]. That makes the population growth rate for 2000 to 2008 about 2.43% {rating: highly probable}

    If statement #2 is correct, however, due to a sudden drop in birth rates and [or] higher mortality rates in 2007 for any number of reasons (that isn’t as impossible as it sounds), then the population growth rate for 2008 could be as high as 3.4%. {rating: less highly probable}

    In reality the actual figure is most probably somewhere between 2.43 and 3.4%.

  8. Maddog said

    Please frorgive the formatting of the previous comment. The tables did not turn out the way I thought they would. Multiple spaces were concatenated. I have placed the tables online at:


  9. Maddog said

    The conclusion is highly unlikely given that you are using estimates for 2008. The UN Population Division has an online calculator that provide much lower population numbers at: I have taken several samples using low, medium, high and consgtant-fertility variants. The results are below.

    Below are population growth rates for all variants.

    Population growth rate (%)
    All Variants
    Year Medium High Low Constant-fertility
    variant variant variant variant
    1995-2000 2.11 2.11 2.11 2.11
    2000-2005 2.08 2.08 2.08 2.08
    2005-2010 1.90 2.09 1.72 2.13

    Even the highest estimates come nowhere close to the 3.4% you have calculated. A 3.4% claim is an impossible figure.

    Below are population figures and estimates for all variants

    Population (thousands)
    All Variants
    Year Medium High Low Constant-fertility
    variant variant variant variant
    1995 68 587 68 587 68 587 68 587
    2000 76 213 76 213 76 213 76 213
    2005 84 566 84 566 84 566 84 566
    2010 93 001 93 865 92 136 94 076

    Note that the highest variant shows an estimated 2010 population of around 94.1 million, which renders the CIA World Factbook estimate highly unlikely.

  10. feww said

    Hi Maddog – The links to the political party you mentioned were removed for the obvious reasons.

    Moderators have dug up various figures for the Philippines population:

    a. 92,681,453 (July 2008 est.) CIA’s The World “Factbook”

    b. 2008 estimate 90.5 million Wikipedia

    c. population according to 2007 census was 88,574,614

    Using the following formulae

    i. AE =(a+b)/2 [the average estimate for 2008 population]
    ii. PGR = (AE-c)/c * 100 [estimated population growth rate]

    the current growth rate is found to be:

    (92,681,453 + 90,500,000)/2 = 91,590,726.5 average population estimate July 2008
    (91,590,726.5 – 88,574,614) = 3,016,113 population added since August 2007
    (3,016,113 / 88,574,614) x 100% = 3.4% estimated population growth rate

    This figure may be on the high side, but no other reliable estimates are available.

    the Philippines population growth rate in 2008 could be as high as 3.4%

  11. Maddog said

    Thanks for letting me know what was lacking in my comment.

    The section of the privilege speech of Olongapo City Councilor JC delos Reyes which contains quotes on Philippine population growth is at:

    [Link Removed. FEWW]

    An article by Atty. Jose C. Sison which expounds on the Councilor’s privilege speech is also archived at the Ang Kapatiran party website (Phil. Star does not yet have an active onlien archive). It is at:

    [Link Removed. FEWW]

    Philippine Annual Population Growth rate 2000-2005:

  12. feww said

    Maddog – Thanks for stopping by. Please forward links for the sources you have quoted from to enable moderators publishing your comment.
    Best wishes

  13. Datu Daku said

    The law of supply ang demand rears its ugly head in the Philippine food scene. With an ever shrinking hectarage devoted to food production and an ever growing land use for property development, the Catholic Church is adamant in blocking every initiative to control the runaway population growth. Maybe these black, brown or white-robed remnants of clerico-fascist colonizers don’t eat at all. Or labor for their food. If the nation will starve because of the stand of the church, to hell with church! [Edited] them all! Drive them out of the country! [Edited] everyone of them, display the heads in poles like some trophies in front of every cathedral. Who the hell they think they are for playing with our lives?

    [Text was edited. Please see FEWW Editorial Policy]

  14. Maddog said

    Comment Withheld by moderator pending clarification: FEWW

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