Filipinos in Central Luzon will continue to increase in 2021 but at a slower pace as the region’s population would reach 12,609,535, according to projections by the Commission on Population and Development – (POPCOM) Region III.

Despite the rise in absolute numbers, the population grew gradually by 1.63% by the start of 2021—an increase from 2020’s projection of 12,413,181, but a slower growth compared with a 2.13% population growth rate in 2016 and 1.81% between 2019 and 2020.

Among population groups, the most notable increase was observed within the working-age or Filipinos between 15 to 64 years old, which will reach 8,364,085 by next year, making up 66% of the entire Philippine population. The working population by 2021 will be composed of males at 4,250,284 and females at 4,113,761, with a difference of 136,523 between the sexes.

This implies the need for additional job creation particularly at the local level, which will be challenging given the current pandemic and its effects on the labor sector.

The increase in the working-age population also implies a demographic precondition for greater productivity with additional members of the labor force compared to dependents, the region is slowly positioning itself to reap from the demographic dividend or the economic gains brought by shifts in a population’s age structure.

However, this demographic change must be reinforced by policies and programs that would ensure the needs of the labor force, as well as the dependents. Thus, the need for approaches not only on employment, but also in healthcare particularly in family planning, as well as education.

Meanwhile, individuals belonging to the “dependent” population, consisting of those within 0-14 years old, as well as those 60 years of age and older (27% and 10% of the population, respectively), will increase by 59,765 in 2021 and have a total of 4,675,083. The constant increase of senior citizens in the region calls out for better interventions in terms of their needs on healthcare and well-being, as POPCOM Undersecretary Juan Antonio Perez III stated the “need to focus on the needs of this vulnerable part of the population, as it is also an often-neglected sector.” 

While projections show that the increase among younger dependents in the region aged 0 to 14 has slowed down from 8,888 additional members in 2020 to only 5,100 in 2021, there is a possibility that the increase of younger dependents may accelerate given the current pandemic which brought community quarantine protocols, thereby affecting access to health centers and workers for family planning (FP) information and services. Furthermore, the constant increase of women of reproductive age who may reach 3,302,082 by 2021 which would be 26% of the total population also amplifies the need for intensified actions on family planning.

Prior to the pandemic, Central Luzon, based on the 2017 Philippine National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS), has more than 9 out of 100 women who have an unmet need for modern FP, while 2 out of 10 women are using temporary FP methods. The constant increase of women who are capable of childbearing and the possibility that FP users may not be resupplied with their FP needs are some of the causal factors of the possible increase of child births and increase in younger dependents by 2021 as projected by POPCOM.

Furthermore, in the national situation, the University of the Philippines Population Institute and the United Nations Population Fund provided estimates of 2,560,000 unintended pregnancies in the Philippines, of which 751,000 of these are due to community quarantine-induced family planning service reductions. 

Adolescents aged 10 to 19 are seen to have a slower increase of 11,285 by 2021 at 2,324,927 from the previous population of 2,313,642 in 2020. However, the increasing trends in cases of adolescent pregnancies in the region as reflected by regional reports prior to the pandemic still present another concern that local policy and decision-makers need to address. This is validated by UPPI and UNFPA which stated that unintended pregnancies from this age group in the country will reflect a 21.04% rise and is expected to reach 102,000 due to community quarantine-induced service reductions on family planning.

Thus, POPCOM Region III calls for support in the implementation of the population management program in the region.

POPCOM’s estimates for 2021 are based on geometric-method projections using the last population census in 2015 by the Philippine Statistics Authority

Press Release No.PR-2021-01Release Date:January 01, 2021