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Poverty in the Philippines: General and Subsistence Poverty

Poverty in the Philippines: General and Subsistence Poverty

Jan 25, 2012

Poverty in the Philippines: General and Subsistence Poverty

(Note: This article is a segment from a larger piece “Poverty in the Philippines: A Profile”, showcased in Focus-Philippines’ upcoming Poverty Policy Review)

The official records attest to countless longstanding impediments in the Philippine’s quest for poverty reduction. More than two decades have elapsed from when the Philippine government first began amassing poverty-linked data, yet today the myriad facets of Philippine poverty – its causes, the extent of its effects, its solutions— still remain ever widespread and hotly-contested issues.

Somewhat recently, in February 2011, the National Statistics Office estimated that there were 3.85 million poor families living within the Philippines in 2009. What more can be added to this general figure, to more concretely grasp who the poor in the Philippines are, and what poverty may mean for them?

General Poverty and Subsistence Incidences

Year

Poverty Incidence / Population (%)

Subsistence Incidence / Population (%)

Magnitude of Population

1985

44.2

26,674,645

1988

40.2

-

25,385,200

1991

39.9

-

28,554,247

1994

35.5

-

27,372,971

1997

31.8

-

26,768,596

2000

33.7

15.8

25,472,782

2003

30.0

13.5

23,836,104

2006

32.9

14.6

27,616,888

2009

26.5*

10.8*

23,142,481*

Source: National Statistical Coordination Board, FIES (2009)

*The 2009 FIES featured refinements in the official poverty estimation methodology

One of the larger difficulties to analysing Philippine poverty lies in a number of methodological changes that have been implemented in estimating and measuring it over the years. Although poverty incidence was first calculated on a national scale with the first Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES) of 1985, three significant revisions would follow in 1992, 2003, and 2009 respectively. These changes would underpin some drastic shifts in poverty levels, in 1994 and 2009 especially.

Other studies, however, continue to point to the persistent risk of underreported poverty. Poverty lines have not kept astride with inflation movements over time, these studies claim, nor have their surveying methodologies largely conduced to accurately measuring urban poverty[i]. These caveats must be kept in mind at all times in when examining any statistics about Philippine poverty.

In spite of this, some trends are nonetheless evident. From 1985 to 1997, the poverty level of the Philippines has undertaken a gradual decline from 44.2% to 31.8%. The Asian Financial Crisis of 1997 seems to have interrupted these advances, explaining the heightened poverty rating of 33.7% in 2000. Despite some initial gains made with recouping these losses, the poverty rates incrementally rose later into the decade. Finally, although the national poverty rate were estimated to be 26.5% in 2009, it is highly unlikely that much poverty reduction between 2006 and 2009 was attained, considering the deleterious impacts of the 2008 Global Financial Crisis.

Data is lacking for longer-term trends in the Philippines’ subsistence incidence, but given what is available, it is apparent is that since 2000, the share of population in subsistence poverty has visibly fluctuated. From 15.8% in 2000, it declined to 13.5% in 2003, rising back again to 14.6% in 2006. Whether the actual level of subsistence poverty has really diminished in 2009 in spite of the methodological changes stays up for grabs, yet it seems that on the whole, subsistence poverty in the Philippines has lessened throughout the decade.



[i] Asian Development Bank. Poverty in the Philippines: Incomes, Assets and Access. Southeast Asia Department. Manduluyong City: ADB, 2005. 16.

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  1. Poverty in the Philippines: General and Subsistence Poverty | Philaid.org - [...] claim, nor have their surveying methodologies largely conduced to accurately measuring urban poverty[i]. These caveats must be kept in …
  2. Poverty in the Philippines: Overall Summary of Trends | Aid for the Philippines - [...] claim, nor have their surveying methodologies largely conduced to accurately measuring urban poverty[i]. These caveats must be kept in …

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