THE number of poor families declined to a record low in 2015, which will allow the Duterte administration to achieve its poverty reduction target for this year, the government said on Thursday.
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that 16.5 percent of families were considered poor in 2015, compared with 19.7 percent in 2012 and 21.0 percent in 2006.
“The decline in poverty has been more pronounced in recent years. The data showed that there are about 1.4 million less poor Filipinos in 2015 than in 2009,” said Reynaldo Cancio, director for national policy and planning of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA)
Cancio said the decline in poverty incidence was driven by a generally low and stable inflation, improved incomes and higher employment rates.
“Even so, the rate of poverty reduction between 2012 and 2015 could have been faster, if not for the major shocks, especially the intermittent typhoons and El Niño that adversely affected agricultural production, rural incomes and food price,” he aid.
Poverty incidence in the entire population also declined to 21.6 percent in 2015.
This means that roughly one out of five Filipinos were considered poor last year, from the ratio of one out of four recorded in 2012.
Cancio noted that poverty incidence declined significantly from 25.2 percent in 2012 and 26.3 percent in 2009.
“We are pleased to note that this is within the target set in the Philippine Development Plan, which is 20 to 23 percent for the year,” he added.
Moreover, subsistence poverty incidence, which measures extreme poverty, fell to 8.1 percent from 10.4 percent and 10.9 percent in 2012 and 2009, respectively.
This allowed the Philippines to achieve its first UN Millennium Development Goal of halving extreme poverty incidence between 1990 and 2015. In 1991, subsistence poverty among Filipinos was at 20.4 percent.
Family income up
PSA data also showed that the average annual income of Filipino families rose to P267,000 compared with P235,000 in 2012. The average annual family expenditure was at P215,000.
“Hence, Filipino families have savings of P52,000 in a year, on average,” the PSA said.
Bank of the Philippine Islands vice president and lead economist Emilio Neri Jr. said higher family incomes were driven largely by better employment opportunities, as businesses expanded operations.
The government also mobilized resources efficiently particularly in infrastructure and social services from 2013 to 2015, he said.
“Higher credit ratings of the Philippine economy also helped fuel expansion as credit became affordable to both businesses and consumers,” he added.
All regions showed increases in average annual family income at 2015 prices, with families living in the National Capital Region posting the highest average at P425,000.
The Gini coefficient, a measure of income inequality within a population, was estimated at 0.4439 for 2015, the PSA said.
This was slightly lower than the 2012 ratio of 0.4605, which may indicate some improvement in the income distribution among families.
The PSA found that 41.9 percent of annual family expenditures were spent on food.
“For families in the bottom 30 percent income group, the percentage was much higher at 59.7 percent, while for families in the upper 70 percent income group, it was 38.8 percent,” the PSA said.