Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Overpopulated? -- part 2

recently i came across an article in an online archive of a magazine. i was totally surprised when i read it since it fully supported my thesis that reducing a country's population will, in the long term, destroy its economy, rather than help it grow. the article itself presented the findings of a study, The Changing Workforce: Immigrants and the New Economy in Massachusetts. the study showed that Massachusetts actually suffered when its dwindling population wasn't able to support the economy because its "population growth rate is too low to sustain its current rate of economic growth, which will in turn increasingly affect its competitiveness on the world market." some of the other features of depopulation appears here.

the article appeared in a catholic magazine. i didn't want my post to be reeking of bias towards the catholic view, although i think catholics are the most visible in these circumstances, often looking more radical since the convention is to accept the views that i'm about to repudiate. so i searched for one from a secular source. and indeed i found one: Depopulation and Ageing in Europe and Japan:
The Hazardous Transition to a Labor Shortage Economy
by Paul S. Hewitt. The article basically agrees with my thesis and elaborates further on how the depopulation trend will eventually lead to a crisis affecting those countries.

lately, we've heard that france and germany have been unable to sustain their economies, thus they got into trouble with the EU when they were also unable to fix their budget deficit. and to cap them off, their pension systems needed to be overhauled, because they couldn't handle the ageing workforce who are increasing every year. what you wouldn't learn from the press is that these are all related to the fact that they have been suffering from depopulation. i was right, therefore, to tie them all up and show that the problem lies in their population growth, or more precisely, the lack of it. the article, by the way, was published in 2002, before any of the symptoms of the depopulation have actually made headlines in the news.

considering this, i believe that that in the philippine context, the falsehood lies in equating depopulation with progress (lower population = development). this myth should be forcefully supressed with the light of the facts. the media has for years peddling this concept that their fellow filipinos are like bacteria infecting the country and that must be contained by reducing their population. i don't think it ever truly occured to them that their compatriots can become our nation's greatest resource, both in creating wealth and to creating markets. the real challenge lies not in reducing our greatest resource but in developing that resource. development does not equal reduction, for common sense forces us to want to increase our resources rather than let them diminish.

in fact the same article noted that the coming crisis in those ageing and depopulated countries will signal opportunity for the filipinos. indeed, we have seen the tip of the iceberg lately as the demand for filipinos abroad has increased. as filipinos, we have a lot to offer them, and they recognize these. filipinos are highly skilled, they speak english, they are more sociable compared to others, and culturally share many aspects with western culture. an additional challenge for us is to make ourselves more attractive to "needy" western countries and make them more aware of their need and the fact that we can satisfy them. we ought to be better than the competition, especially when they find themselves choosing between filipinos and muslim immigrants who could potentially be radicallized and then blowing up everyone the next day.

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