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Poverty in the Philippines: Overall Summary of Trends

Poverty in the Philippines: Overall Summary of Trends

Jan 25, 2012

Poverty in the Philippines: Overall Summary of Trends

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

This profile of poverty presents a number of patterns and trends which have characterized the experience of Philippine poverty in recent years. The most striking, and at times worrying, patterns and trends among these are the following:

  • Poverty incidence has been slowly rising rather than decreasing, in recent years
  • Poverty in the Philippines is still an overwhelmingly rural phenomenon; the government’s efforts to reduce urban poverty seems to have been far more effective than that for the rural sphere
  • The poorest provinces continue to be in Mindanao, followed by the Visayas
  • The transient poor outnumber the chronically poor in the Philippines— almost half of the chronically poor are in Mindanao, and more than ¾’s of the chronically poor are in rural areas
  • Income inequality in the Philippines has slightly increased since 1986: while urban inequality has gradually decreased over time, rural inequality has taken a sharp turn upwards in recent years
  • The occupations of the poor continue to be overwhelmingly in the agriculture and forestry sectors; similarly, against contrast to popular understanding, the poor engage in higher levels of productive employment than other income strata
  • The employment of the poor is mostly private and household-centric, and there is significant overlap between the industry groups of the poor and those experiencing high informalization
  • Fishers, farmers and children are the basic sectors buffeted by the highest incidences of poverty
  • The poor continue to suffer from less access to basic services like education, electricity, potable water, shelter, and road access than higher income strata
  • The poor experience far higher rates of vulnerability than the nonpoor; moreover, vulnerability rates have been increasing for the population at large
  • The poor manifest greater levels of violence against women than those of more affluent groups— this suggests more exposure to violence among the poor in general

More than ever, a sincere, concerted, imaginative and— not to be underestimated— sustained effort to counteract these multiple patterns and trends of poverty in the Philippines today is called for.

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