The Philippine population is projected to increase by 0.3 percent in 2021—the lowest in 75 years— the Commission on Population and Development (Popcom) said.

According to the Popcom, the projected increase in the country’s population this year is 324,000. The population growth rate was earlier projected to increase by 1.63 percent.

“This annual ‘natural increase’ is the lowest since the period between 1946 and 1947, when the population grew by 254,000,” the Popcom said in a Dec. 27 report.

The natural increase in population, or natural population change, refers to the projection based on the number of births minus deaths in a particular time period.

The Popcom’s computations were based on the Philippine Statistics Authority’s (PSA) vital statistics preliminary reports from January 2020 to August 2021.

The Popcom said that the Philippine population was estimated to be at 109,991,095 by the end of 2021—lower by two million than earlier projections.

Population and Development Undersecretary Juan Perez III said the Covid-19 pandemic had caused families to “delay” having children,

“Filipinos remain prudent by continuing to delay having children or forming families during the combined economic crisis and Covid-19 health emergency,” he said.

Perez also noted the increasing number of Filipino couples availing themselves of family planning commodities and services, which shot up from 500,000 in 2019 to eight million in 2020.

Perez said the low 2020-2021 population growth could enable the country to better recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“If integrated population and development measures are sustained, we can look forward to a more stable population that can effectively support Philippine development. Smaller family sizes need to be supported by a national living wage structure that also allows parents to save for their households’ unmet needs in food, housing and education,” he said. John Ezekiel J. Hirro