Keeping Our Population Young
At all costs we should keep the Philippine population young. We cannot afford to fall into the same demographic trap that has ensnared most developed countries, including all our Northeast Asian neighbors and even some of our Southeast Asian partners in the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) like Singapore and Thailand. As I extensively discussed in a former column in this newspaper entitled “A Young and Growing Population,” our country is still enjoying the “demographic sweet spot” of a young, growing and English-speaking population which is at the root of such engines of growth as OFW remittances, BPO-IT earnings, a robust domestic consumer market and the growing role of domestic tourism in spurring regional economic development. With fifty per cent of our population falling below 24 years of age, we have all the necessary human resources on which we can invest the increasing proportion of the government budget on basic education and universal health and the private funds that many large conglomerates like the Ayalas, SM group, PHINMA group, the Yuchengcos, the Montinola-Reyes family and a good number of other private investors are pouring into tertiary education. The same optimistic trend can be noticed in the investments being made by private enterprises in health care, such as the Ayalas again, the First Pacific group, the UNILAB group and an increasing number of regional players who are putting up private hospitals.