Right family size: The way out of poverty
FULL DISCLOSURE - Fidel Abalos (The Freeman) - June 24, 2019 - 12:00am

Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo and President Duterte are at it again. This time on population growth. To recall, earlier this month, President Duterte “squarely blamed” the Catholic Church for the rapid increase in the country’s population. On the other hand, taking China’s huge number as reference, Bishop Pabillo stressed that population rise is never a hindrance to progress.

If we have to recall further, more than four years ago (January, 2015), on his way home from the Philippines, Pope Francis, while firmly asserting his views against artificial contraception, said that “Catholics don’t have to breed like rabbits and should instead practice responsible parenting”.

Obviously, in between the statements or remarks of these Eminences and Excellences are issues on poverty. Depending on whose point of view – the growing population may or may not have something to do with it.

Truth to tell, in our sincere efforts to break the poverty cycle, we set aside a very significant statistics, population growth. These are information that were readily available then and were scientifically gathered. So that, then, when PopCom Executive Director Juan Antonio Perez III reported that “definitely in the third or fourth quarter of 2014, we will be more than 100 million”, most of us were shocked. The truth, however, was, he said it right.

Therefore, there is no reason to doubt him now when he said that if the annual population growth rate (assuming the annual population growth rate at that time of 2.36% remains) remains the same, we shall be over 150 million by year 2029. Simply put, by then, there shall be more mouths that shall share on our already very limited resources.

To some extent, this swelling population is a consequence of some twisted mindsets. Some parents look at kids as income producing properties. So that, they dwell purely on a very stupid equation, “more kids = more hands” to earn for them. What makes matters worse is, this bunch of couples/individuals truly felt that what they have decided to do have sound backing from the so-called pro-life advocates like the Catholic Church. The same pro-life advocates or anti-contraceptive backers who have entertained the thought that there is no need to curb population because some countries that are bigger (population-wise) than us , like China, as well as countries that are more congested than us, like Singapore, are obviously enjoying better lives. Thus, they alleged, that being plenty or congested have no direct correlation with poverty.

Frankly, most of us have wrong perceptions. Agreeably, bigger number of inhabitants and the higher level of congestion do not directly relate to poverty incidences. What truly relates to poverty incidences is family size. Truth to tell, despite the huge number or level of congestion in countries like China (which had then, one-child policy and, now, two-child policy) or Singapore, respectively, their average number of children per family is just about two. Due to limited space, they (in Singapore) are living in world-class tenements even comparable to what we popularly referred to us “high-end condominiums”. Clearly, in these progressive countries, the common denominator isn’t their sheer number of residents or their level of congestion. Apparently, these countries have kept their family sizes at manageable levels.

Clearly, therefore, it starts with the right family size. The appropriate size that is very much within the family’s resources or income. With this mindset prevailing, right thinking couples/individuals will tend to limit their number of kids so they can responsibly and comfortably raise their families.

Moreover, in a very manageable family size, the wives or mothers benefit the most. They can find jobs or do more productive chores apart from taking care of the kids. With all these preoccupations, women will try to space their pregnancy or most probably just be contended of having a few. With both parents doing productive undertakings, families’ needs would be handily and responsibility taken care of.

Indeed, having the right family size is a matter of fiscal responsibility. If one is a billionaire, then he can be like Solomon because he can afford to give better lives to a hundred children. Otherwise, if he is a pauper, for heaven sake, he must not think of having more kids to have more hands to soon bail him out of poverty.

BRODERICK PABILLO
Philstar
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