Population and Jobs

Details Published on Thursday, 07 June 2012 00:00

‘It is a race between ever-increasing number of people and the ability of the economy to create jobs. The economy loses the race all the time.’

PRESIDENT Aquino is now being blamed for his failure to create enough jobs. The accusation is not exactly false, as it has not been false for all past presidents, except probably during the administrations in the commonwealth period up to the presidencies of Elpidio Quirino and Ramon Magsaysay.

It is not that they were more capable than their successors. It is simply the fact that in their time, fewer people needed jobs. Farmers used antiquated methods but by and large were able to feed their families.

Life was easy. My guess is that in those times the population was probably about 30 million, maybe even less. The soil was richer. The oceans, seas and rivers were clean for marine life to thrive and be sources of livelihood.

As the years wore on, the population increased unceasingly. There was so much pressure on everything. On food, natural resources, on land, forests, rivers and seas, even wild life.

The day came when the birth rate grew to almost 2 percent a year. Because the base became much larger, this easily translated to an estimated two million babies a year. Eighteen years from this year, two million people of age and willing to work will join the labor force.

In 15 years the total population may be expected to be about 120 million.

The solution to the growing unemployment problem, according to the economists, particularly the arm-chair variety, is for the country to attract more local and foreign investments, particularly in manufacturing which is more labor-intensive than other businesses.

The equation is the economy’s ability to absorb people willing to work and jobs available. No amount of investment will ever be big enough to take in the growing number of unemployed. But it is true that larger amounts of investments do help a lot but not enough to create a full employment or near-full employment economy.

My favorite example is Indonesia. It has a very large territory. It has the sweetest and most expensive crude in the world. It also happens to have the biggest population in the Asean region.

Unemployment in Indonesia is second highest in the region after the Philippines. Two things are common. The two members of the Asean have the most number of people. Two things are unlike each other. Indonesia is the largest territory. The Philippines is one of the smallest about the land area of Cambodia.

The pressure of an ever-increasing population and the palpable neglect of agriculture by the government resulted in two unwanted situations. First and most threatening, the country is fast running out of food particularly the staple cereal, rice.

Second, the shortage of food where there should be plenty –in the farms – have forced rural folks to the urban areas in search of jobs to buy food. If there is no job to find, they can always scavenge for scraps in the garbage heap. It that does produce enough for a big brood, the next option is begging. That “job” will not produce enough food either.

The easy way is to pick pockets, push drugs, steal or join a robbery gang. The young women in their early teens, in extreme cases with their mothers’ consent, start working in naughty joints where they learn to smoke, drink and eventually take to drugs.

These people are what they are because the economy cannot give them enough jobs. There are not enough investments that create the jobs. It is a race between ever-increasing number of people and the ability of the economy to create jobs. The economy loses the race all the time.

There are already seven urban centers threatened with high population density. In my barrio in Lipa there are strangers – many from the Bicol region, some from Quezon Province –who beg small people who have unoccupied lots for permission to build shanties. They work and work hard. They also multiply fast, in fact sprout like mushrooms.

The lesson seems to be clear. No matter what size of investment is poured into the economy the unemployment rate will continue to go up. Hunger will stalk the land. Criminality will rise. Social problems will be unmanageable.

If the state has the balls to disobey the order or dogma of the Roman Catholic Church in implementing an information program on family health in relation to fertility and birth rate, the effects will be felt in about 15 years. By that time, the traffic situation will be hell, food will run out. Unemployment may well be at its highest peak. In extreme situation food riots may be possible. The Philippines will be one hell of a country to live in.

All because state leaders are scared of the Catholic Church to wage an information campaign on maternal health.


Email: amadomacasaet@yahoo.com

Source: http://www.malaya.com.ph/index.php/opinion/5752-population-and-jobs


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