Most jobs here in the Philippines don’t include any kind of pension. Sure, some of the higher paying jobs, government jobs, military and such offer pensions for those who make a career out of such employment. But, a lot of Filipinos work in temporary jobs, informal work, or just pick up whatever odd jobs they can get. If you are a tricycle driver, you should not expect any pension for that. Same thing for a seamstress, jeepney driver, waiter working in a restaurant and such. These are the kinds of jobs that employee the average Filipino.
So, no pension on the horizon. What will the person do? Another thing that is important is that a lot of people can’t find work if they are over 35 or 40 years old. People in that age group and older are virtually unemployable here. When companies advertise help wanted ads, they actually specify what the age limit is for employees that they will hire. Sometimes these employers won’t even hire somebody in their late 20’s.
With these conditions so prevalent in the Philippines, how can a person plan for their old age? Most people don’t earn enough income in their younger years to enable them to save much money toward their retirement years. So, it’s a dilemma. What do you to to enjoy life in your later years? How do you protect yourself when inevitable health problems crop up? There must be a way, right?
Well, in Philippine society, even with all of these limitations, there is a way that many people ensure their retirement. How? They have a lot of kids. How does this help? These kids generally have a responsibility to pitch in to take care of their parents when the parents are older. How do they take care of the parents? They pitch in to provide money for the parents. They help take care of the house and daily chores that need to be done in the household. They take care of the physical needs of the parents. Everything that an older person might need in their golden years is looked after by younger generations of the family – children, nieces, nephews, even grandchildren.
One thing that you hear from a lot of foreigners is that they are shocked that Philippine families are so big. It surprises them that couples have so many children. Why wold they do that? Well, the more children there are, the better the parents will be cared for in their old age. I mean, if you only have one or two kids, caring for the parents could be difficult. But, if you spread that cost over 6 or 7 kids, it can be quite affordable. The Philippines is not like the USA where the older generation is sent off to a nursing home or a retirement community. Here, the older generation is more revered, and they are taken care of. They are not simply sent off and relegated to once per month visits (or less).
Many foreigners take their criticism of large families even further, and they take it into the realm of religion. It is very common to hear foreigners criticize the birth control policies of the Church. For me, I don’t buy that. The fact is that people know how to use birth control, and they know what it is. I don’t personally believe that. I firmly believe that most Filipinos have large families as their own form of a pension or Social Security for their old age. This is a cultural thing, the way that people here handle planning for their golden years. Yes, the way that we do it in the west is different, but that doesn’t necessarily make it better. The way that they do it here works better for the way the economy works here.
Honestly, with the economic meltdown in the west, I would not be surprised to see a similar system come into place around the world. No, I don’t think we’ll see Americans or Europeans having 6 or 8 kids, but I do think that at least in this generation we will see people in their 30’s to 50’s kicking in money so that their parents can make it through their retirement years. We are already hearing about old folks having to find jobs, working as store clerks and such, because they lost all of their retirement funds. Having the kids help is virtually inevitable, I think.