living in the ‘Land of Smiles’

Chiang Mai, Thailand

A Tale of Two Countries: Family Planning in the Philippines and Thailand

Via: (Manila) Inquirer

Same Starting Point, Different Outcomes

Essentially, the tale is how, starting from the same point in the early seventies, Thailand and the Philippines took separate routes, with contrasting results. Currently, Thailand has a much smaller population, a much bigger economy, fewer people living in poverty, and a better quality of life for the general population. What accounted for the difference?  “Thailand,” says Nibhon, “took family planning seriously.”

Thailand had a slightly smaller GDP than the Philippines in 1975, but it had roughly the same population size, a high population growth rate, a high fertility rate, and a high proportion of people living under the poverty line.


Comparing the performance of Thailand and the Philippines over the last four decades, the following contrasts emerge:

– Thailand was able to radically reduce its population growth rate to 0.6 percent while the Philippines inched down to 2.04 per cent in the period 1970 -2010.

– During the period 1970-2008, Thailand’s GDP per capita grew by 4.4 percent, while the Philippines’ grew by 1.4 percent.

– By 2008, Thailand’s total GDP was US$273 billion while the Philippines’ was $167 billion.

– By 2010, there were 93.6 million Filipinos, or over 20 million more than the 68.1 million Thais. This gap of 25.5 million is the demographic advantage
enjoyed by Thailand – one that has made a vast difference in the economic performance and the quality of life of the people in the two countries.

– By 2008, owing to partly to its demographic performance, Thailand’s GDP per capita was US$4,043 or more than twice that of the Philippines, which stood at $1,847.

= By 2010, only 9.6 per cent of Thais lived under the national poverty line while 26.4 per cent of Filipinos did.


Working towards the same effect is the high degree of female autonomy in the Philippines.  The only area of family life where there is a relative absence of female control is reproduction, and here it is not male macho that appears to be the problem but lack of knowledge or access to contraceptives. Nevertheless, male coercion is not absent, though it assumes the form of an ideological and political obstruction posed by the Catholic hierarchy’s opposition to state-sponsored family planning.  

The passage of the Reproductive Health, Family Planning, and Population and Development Bill (RH Bill) would severely weaken this patriarchal barrier to women’s reproductive control.

Finally, the effective use of condoms to stop the spread of AIDS is one of the aims of RH bill, and Thailand’s successful campaign is something that the government can emulate.  In fact, we have no choice:  RH or no RH, there must be an aggressive move to distribute condoms along with public information campaign on their use to stem the rapid spread of AIDS, whatever are the doctrinal apprehensions of the Catholic Church hierarchy.

Asked to comment on how the Philippines could get a really effective family planning program going, Meechai answered, “Maybe you should get the bishops to take care of the babies being added to the population each year.”

I could not tell if he was kidding.


Via: wikipedia

PHILIPPINES – 94 million people, the world’s 12th most populous country


THAILAND: 64 million people, the world’s 21st most populous country


Again, 40 years ago, same-same.



July 24, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , ,

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