Increasing teenage pregnancies can derail economic growth

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The high teenage pregnancies in the country now could lead to the creation of a population equivalent to two medium cities or ten municipalities, the Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) predicted, which in turn could derail economic growth.

POPCOM further stated that the 29,000 births by teen moms in 2020 would increase the number of families led by minors to 70,755. However, with another estimate of 62,510 births by teenage mothers in 2021, the total number of families led by minors in the country can go up to 133,625.

According to Undersecretary Juan Antonio Perez 3rd, POPCOM Executive Director this is equivalent to a population of 260,000 people, which is the average population of 10 municipalities in the Philippines combined. This is also a conservative estimate.

“An estimated P33 billion is lost due to teenage pregnancies every year as early childbearing reduces age earnings (wage rate) profile through its effect on high school completion. The age-earnings profile is higher among those who completed high school compared to those who did not,” Perez said.

A United Nations Population Fund study calculated that a teenage girl who gets pregnant and does not finish high school may potentially lose earnings up to P83,000 a year when she gets paid for work at age 20. This is about 87 percent of the potential annual income of a 20-year-old woman who completed her high school education and did not get pregnant in her teen years.

ADVANTAGE OF GETTING EDUCATION

“The study shows that completing high school education increases daily wage rates of women by P300. At age 20, a girl who began childbearing before age 18 may only earn about P46 a day, compared to the P361 per day estimate for someone who completed high school and did not get pregnant early,” POPCOM said,

Teen pregnancy and childbearing affect the economic well-being of teen parents, their children and the state. Having a child in adolescence makes it more difficult for young people to achieve their educational, career and other life goals and affects the future prospects of their children—at considerable cost to taxpayers.

“In an economy that increasingly demands higher levels of educational achievement, teen pregnancy can interrupt or derail education, with lasting consequences. Even if teens complete high school, unplanned pregnancy can still disrupt higher education goals,” POPCOM said.

“Low levels of educational attainment among teen parents reduce employment opportunities and earnings later on in life. The state, in turn, loses out on purchasing power, collects fewer taxes and may experience reduced worker productivity,” the agency added.

There were about 171 livebirths born to minors everyday in 2019 and the country ranked fourth in terms of Adolescent Birth rate among Southeast Asian countries.

The agency is thus pushing for the passage of a pending bill that seeks to prevent teenage pregnancy that will strengthen mechanisms and interventions to educate and enable adolescents to access appropriate services including family planning information and services, as well as, a comprehensive social protection program for teenaged mothers and their children.

Currently under the Period of Interpellation in the Senate and awaiting committee action at the House of Representatives, the bill provides access of minors to reproductive health services including modern family planning methods, comprehensive sexuality education, establishment of adolescent friendly health facilities, and social protection for adolescent mothers and fathers.

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