Majority of the constituents of Mercedes are Filipino. Almost 96% is Bikolano. Other ethnic groups are Bisaya, Caviteño, Ilonggo, Kankaney, Kapampangan, Masbateño, Waray, Tausug and Tagalog, among others. There are also some foreign ethnicity particularly Chinese.
The dialect spoken by the people is Bikol. However, some residents particularly those in the urban areas use Tagalog. English may be understood by many but is not widely spoken.
The typical family of Mercedes has an average of 5 members. The dependency ratio is 82%. The ratio means that there are 82 persons of unproductive age for every 100 persons of productive age.
When it comes to religious affiliations, as of Year 2000, about 96% of the town’s people belong to the Roman Catholic Church and the remaining 4% are distributed among other religious denominations like the Iglesia ni Kristo, Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, Jehovah’s Witnesses and other Protestants/Born Again Christians. Comparing this to the 2012 CBMS data, it shows that the statistics does not change so much for the 12-year period when it comes to religious affiliation. Roman Catholics still has the most number of members of 46,333 or a percentage of about 96% of the total population of the municipality, while the remaining 4% are divided to other religions.
POPULATION COMPOSITION BY SCHOOL-AGE, WORKING AGE, DEPENDENT AGE GROUP
Mercedes has a total school-going age population of 20,485; 10,708 or 52.27% of them are male and 9,827 or 47.97% are female. Pre-school children aged 3-6 years old is around 5,010; elementary school children aged 7 to 12 years old 7,451; secondary school children aged 13 to 16 years old 4,152 and tertiary level with around 3,872. Generally, the sex ratio of the school going age population is 109.
The total working age population is 26,051, majority of them are male of about 13,448 or 51.62%.
Of the total population of 44,367, about 41% comprises the child and youth group. This ranges from ages under 1 year old to 14 years. The productive or working age group is about 55%, comprising the population whose ages range from 15 to 64 years old. This group constitutes the potential labor force of the municipality. Dependent age groups are those with ages below 15 and above 64 years old and constitute about 45% of the population. This brings the total dependency ratio to 81.91%. This means that for every 100 working age individuals there are about 82 dependents, 75 of whom are young and 7 are old age dependents.
POPULATION DISTRIBUTION BY AGE GROUP AND GENDER
Looking at the distribution of population by gender, for both censal year 2000 and 2007, male population slightly dominates the female population. In year 2000, male population was 21,501 compared to female population of 20,212. Male population increased to 22,904 in year 2007 while female population increased to 21,463.
Based on age group distribution, it shows the municipality is generally composed of young population considering that majority of its population belongs to school age-population, particularly 5-9 years old and 10 to 14 years old.
The population pyramid shows that the least number of population based on age was in age bracket 80 years old and over. Also under 1 year and over constitutes only around 2.7% of the total population.
HOUSEHOLD POPULATION BY URBAN AND RURAL BARANGAYS
The municipality of Mercedes is predominantly rural. The combined poblacion barangays (Barangay 1 to 7), including Barangay San Roque are considered urban areas. The three (3) island barangays and the coastal barangays are categorized as rural areas.
In 2007 census, the total population in the urban barangays was around 19,570. This is about 44% of the total municipal population. On the other hand, the rural barangay’s population was 24,805 or 56%.
Among the urban barangays, San Roque has the biggest population of around 6,445 or 32.93% of the total urban population. It is followed by Barangay 2 with 2,899 population which constitutes about 14.81%.
Among the rural barangays, Barangay Manguisoc has the biggest population of around 3,770 which is about 15.20% of the entire rural population. This is followed by Barangay Pambuhan with 2,495. Catandunganon has the lowest population with only 281 or 1.13% of the rural population.
Urbanization is defined as growth in the proportion of a population living in urban areas which takes place when there is development. Extent of urbanization of a locality at a certain point in time is indicative of progress or development taking place.
The level of urbanization of Mercedes for the past 20 years was somehow erratic. In censal year 1970-1975, the municipality exhibited an urban growth rate of 4.63% and a rural growth rate of 5.25%. In 1975-1980, the urban growth rate declined to 3.61%, same with rural growth rate which declined to 1.02%. This trend continued in various censal years up to 2007. There was a noticeable abrupt increase of urban population growth in 2005 due to the inclusion of barangay San Roque as an urban barangay.
Generally, the level of urbanization of Mercedes in year 1970 was 33.41% which increased to 44.10% in 2007.
Tempo of urbanization is computed by deducting rural population growth rate from the urban growth rate. It is interpreted that the higher the tempo, the higher is the urbanization. In 1995-2007, the tempo of urbanization in the municipality is -1.32 which means that rural growth is faster than urban growth.
Population density is defined as the number of persons per land area measured in square kilometer or hectare. As computed based on 2007 NSO census, the gross population density of Mercedes is 255 persons per square kilometer. This is slightly higher than the province’s population density of 221 persons per square kilometer.
Within the municipality, there is a wide range of differences in the barangay population density. The combined urban barangays has a population density of 4,893 persons/square kilometer, while the combined rural barangays has a population density of only 146 persons/square kilometer.
Barangay 6 having the smallest land area has the highest population density of 39,263 persons/square kilometer. It is followed by Barangay 7 with 30,795 persons/square kilometer and by Barangay 3 with 20,358 persons/square kilometer.
Among the 3 island barangays, Barangay Quinapaguian has the highest population density of around 740/square kilometer, compared to Barangay Apuao and Caringo with 65 persons/square kilometer and 452 persons/square kilometer, respectively.
HISTORICAL GROWTH OF POPULATION
Municipal population enumerated in various censuses is presented in Table 27. In year 1903-1939, Mercedes was still part of Daet. It was only created into a municipality on August 8, 1948 by virtue of Republic Act 431 which was sponsored by then Congressman Esmeraldo Eco.
In 1948, the population of Mercedes was only 7,247. From that time up to the present, the population was steadily growing and the rapid increase was from 1960-1975 which was mainly due to the booming fishery industry in the municipality.
The highest population growth was recorded in 1948-1960 with an annual growth rate of 5.63%. Likewise, in censal year 1970-1975, Mercedes posted an annual growth rate of 5.04%, compared to the province’s 1.92%, and the national growth rate of only 2.78%.
Although the population of the municipality is growing, the rate of growth starting from year 1995 to 2007 is diminishing, and the lowest growth was recorded in censal year 2000-2007 with an annual growth rate of only 0.89%, compared to the province’s and the region’s annual growth rate of 1.26% and 1.28% respectively.
The total population of Mercedes as of the latest NSO Census of 2007 was 44,375. This is 8.64 percent of the total provincial population of 513,785 in the same censal year.
“Mercedes is a world class tourism hub and a key player for the production of renewable energy in Camarines Norte and the Center of Excellence for Fisheries in the Bicol Region where god-loving, empowered and health citizenry are living in a preserved and protected natural environment, with well-planned and functional infrastructure, and a vibrant economy under a dynamic and transparent leadership where everyone adheres to the principles of sustainable development.”