For more than two decades, the Catholic Church in the Philippines, Asia's only predominantly Catholic country, has opposed a Reproductive Health Bill that seeks to give poor people access to free contraceptives. The issue, Archbishop Socrates Villegas said in a statement, should be decided by "faith not opinions".
(Statistics) reveal that the population of the Philippines is exploding. According to the United Nations Population Division, at the current rate of growth, the 93 million people now living in the country could grow to 100 million by 2015, and 150 million by 2050.
But ironically, high-fertility countries - nine in all including Laos, Cambodia, Afghanistan and Iraq - are becoming fewer in Asia. In fact, low fertility has become a phenomenon in a number of countries on the continent - the Chinese mainland, Japan, Vietnam and Thailand. In all, 19 out of 51 countries fall under that category in Asia, a continent that accounts for more than half of the world's population.
The inevitable outcome of the falling fertility trend, a hallmark of many nations in Europe, is swelling elderly populations.
A United Nations study cited by the Asian Development Bank says Asia will have 859 million people age 65 and older by 2050, up from 269 million in 2010.
Less than one-fifth of the world population lives in a high-fertility country. Developed countries typically have low birth rates. A similar pattern is emerging in Asia. Higher-income countries and regions like South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong have low birth rates along with high incomes. All of Europe and most of the Americas are "low fertility".
"On the whole, fertility is declining rather rapidly in Asia," said Christophe Lefranc, a Bangkok-based technical adviser on census and data with the United Nations Population Fund.
New numbers from the World Health Organization (WHO) suggest conside
rable changes in demographic patterns in Asia that can have a direct effect on economic development.
- By Alfred Romann
Longer lifespans could be a blow for Asia
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