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Monday, October 23, 2017 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES
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   economic indicators

Date posted: Friday, September 02, 2016 | Manila, Philippines

BY Christine Joyce S. Castañeda Researcher

Highest population density still to be found in NCR

PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte may blame “Imperial Manila” for the country’s woes, but the National Capital Region (NCR) remains the land of promise for many Filipinos as it packs the most number of people per square kilometer (sq. km.)

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), NCR was the most densely populated region in the country in 2015, as job opportunities attracted more people to migrate to Metro Manila.

NCR had a population density of 19,988 persons, climbing from the 18,402 in 2010 and the 15,417 in 2000. The latest figure for Metro Manila is almost 60 times more than that for the entire Philippines.

Last year, the country’s population breached the 100-million mark. With a total land area of 300,000 square kilometers, the Philippines’ population density stood at 337 persons/sq. km.

Census results showed an increase of 29 persons/sq. km. or 9.4% from the population density of 308 in 2010. 2015 results were also higher by 82 persons/sq. km. than the 255 in 2000.

Among the cities of NCR, Manila was the most densely populated with 42,628 persons/sq. km. It was followed by Mandaluyong and Caloocan City, with 41,580 persons/sq. km. and 28,387 persons/sq. km., respectively.

Five other cities breached NCR’s population density, including Makati (27,010 persons/sq. km), Malabon (23,267 persons/sq. km), Pasay (23,038 persons/sq. km), Navotas (22,845 persons/sq. km) and San Juan (21,102 persons/sq. km.).

In contrast, the municipality of Pateros was the most sparsely populated in NCR with only 6,138 residing in every square kilometer.

If Metro Manila had the highest population density, the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) had the least with 84 residents/sq. km.

Nimfa B. Ogena, professor of Demography at the University of the Philippines Population Institute, said Metro Manila’s high population density is a reflection of “people’s view on where job opportunities are.”

She said this perception wasn’t “dispelled” even if industries shifted outside Metro Manila.

Guian Angelo S. Dumalagan, market economist of the Land Bank of the Philippines, agreed that Metro Manila’s disproportionate share of the country’s economic output explains the area’s attraction to many Filipinos.

As of last year, NCR accounted for more than a third of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Metro Manila also had the highest per capita gross regional domestic product (GRDP) at P219,114, or almost three times the national average of P74,770.

“Rural-urban migration coupled with the natural tendency for people to reproduce caused NCR’s extremely high population density,” Mr. Dumalagan said.

“The presence of high rise condominiums and apartments have allowed people to live in tighter spaces.”

Metro Manila’s high population density results in worse traffic and crime, not to mention a deterioration in health and environmental conditions.

“With a greater number of people, it would more difficult to control pollution and the spread of diseases. Furthermore, it would also aggravate the negative impact of natural calamities that might probably hit the nation’s capital,” Mr. Dumalagan said.

UP’s Ms. Ogena however noted the outward shift of people from the Metro Manila and other regions to Region IV-A just south of the nation’s capital consisting of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon (Calabarzon).

“Most of the provinces in the Region IV-A are attracting… migrants because of the work that are available,” she said, citing Cavite and Laguna in particular.

The Calabarzon region had a population density of 879 residents/sq. km. The region also was the second-biggest contributor to GDP at 17.2%.

Among the 81 provinces, Cavite was the most densely populated with 2,455 persons/sq. km. It was followed by Rizal, Laguna, Pampanga (excluding Angeles City) and Bulacan.

The five most sparsely populated provinces were Apayao, Abra, Palawan, Mountain Province and Kalinga.

“Population and population density are definitely expected to increase in the coming years. But just like what is happening in many countries, the rate growth is expected to slow down as more and more couples are deciding to have fewer children than before,” Landbank’s Mr. Dumalagan said. -- with a report from Reniel D. Gloriani

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