SWS: 45% of Filipino families consider themselves poor, fewer than in March

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SWS: 45% of Filipino families consider themselves poor, fewer than in March
Individuals purchase fruits and vegetables at a stall along Marcos Highway on July 19, 2023. STAR/Andy Zapata Jr.
The STAR / Andy Zapata Jr.

MANILA, Philippines — Nearly half of Filipino families or 12.5 million households considered themselves poor during the second quarter of 2023, according to a survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations. 

The poll conducted from June 28 to July 1 found 45% of Filipino families rating themselves as poor, lower than the 51%—or around 14 million households—recorded in March. 

Thirty-three percent of families considered themselves borderline poor, while 22% said they were not poor. 

Of the 12.5 million self-rated families, 2 million were “newly poor” or non-poor one to four years ago, 1.6 million were “usually poor” or non-poor five or more years ago, and 8.8 million were “always poor” or those who never experienced being non-poor.

Meanwhile, 5.2 million families joined the 15 million households who considered themselves not poor. 

SWS attributed the six-point decline in the nationwide self-rate poor figure to decreases in all areas. 

Self-rated poverty fell in Visayas to 57% from 65% and in Mindanao to 54% from 62%. It declined—although not significantly—in Metro Manila to 35% from 40% and in Balance Luzon to 39% from 43%. 

Inflation has been on a downward trend for five consecutive months and had cooled to 5.4% in June—or at the time of the survey—largely due to slower increases in food prices. 

The number of families who were on the border between poor and not poor hardly moved in the capital region to 23% from 26% and in Visayas to 26% from 28%. It stayed at 33% in Mindanao, and rose in Balance Luzon to 38% from 32%. 

Families who said they were not poor rose in Metro Manila to 42% from 33%, in Visayas to 15% from 9%, and Mindanao to 13% from 6%. The figure hardly changed in Balance Luzon to 23% from 25%.

According to SWS, the self-rated poverty threshold—or the minimum monthly budget poor families said they needed for household expenses in order not to consider themselves poor—stayed at P15,000. 

“[The SRP threshold] has remained sluggish for several years despite considerable inflation. This indicates that poor families have been lowering their living standards, i.e., belt-tightening,” the polling firm said. 

More self-rated food-poor Filipinos

The June survey also found that the number of families who described themselves to be food-poor decreased to 34% from 39% in March. There were around 9.2 million self-rated food poor families in June from 10.6 million in March. 

The proportion of families who found themselves to be in the border between food-poor and not food-poor stayed at 38%, while the percentage of not food-poor rose to 29%. 

The pollster said the five-point decline in self-rated food-poor percentage was due to a “sharp decrease in Mindanao, combined with steady scores in Metro Manila, Balance Luzon, and the Visayas.”

According to the SWS, the self-rated food poverty threshold stayed at P8,000, while the median self-rated food poverty gap remained at P3,000.

The poll was conducted through face-to-face interviews with 1,200 adults. The sampling error margins were ±2.5% for national percentages, ±4.0% in Balance Luzon, and ±5.7% each for Metro Manila, Visayas and Mindanao.

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