SWS: 47 percent of Filipinos consider themselves ‘poor’

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MORE people considered themselves poor in the third quarter of the year, according to the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey.

The poll, for which 1,500 adults nationwide were interviewed face-to-face from September 23 to 27, showed that 47 percent of respondents, or an estimated 10.9 million families, considered themselves mahirap or poor.

SELF-RATED POVERTY UP Homeless people seek refuge under a tree on one of Manila’s dusty streets. An SWS poll of 1,500 adults nationwide showed that 47 percent, or an estimated 10.9 million families, considered themselves mahirap or poor. PHOTO BY RENE H. DILAN

The figure was three points higher than in the June 2017 survey, which showed that 44 percent or an estimated 10.1 million families considered themselves poor.

The proportion of self-rated poor families, based on SWS data, saw a sharp increase from 44 percent in December 2016 to 50 percent in March this year.


Before this, it had been either steady or in decline for nine consecutive quarters from the fourth quarter of 2014 to the fourth quarter of 2016.

The latest survey also found that 32 percent or 7.4 million families rated their food as “poor.” This was similar to the 32 percent or an estimated 7.3-million families recorded as food-poor in June 2017.

36 percent ‘always poor’

Since the surveys on self-rated poor respondents in December 2014, 36 percent of respondents have always rated themselves as poor, while one-fourth or 11 percent were not poor sometime in the past.

Among the 11 percent, 6 percent said that they were “newly poor” or those who became poor sometime in the last four years, and 5 percent were “usually poor” (became poor five or more years ago).

On the self-rated non-poor families, half said they have never been poor, while the other half were poor sometime in the past.

Overall, the three-point nationwide rise in self-rated poverty rate in the third quarter of 2017 was because of a sharp increase in Luzon and a slight boost in Metro Manila, offset by decreases in poverty in the Visayas and Mindanao.

A 16-point increase in self-rated poverty was recorded in Luzon, from 34 percent in June 2017 to 50 percent in September 2017, the same as in March this year.

It also rose by three points in Metro Manila, from 28 percent in June to 31 percent in September.

A decrease by eight points, from 64 percent to 56 percent, and 12 points, from 57 percent to 45 percent, was noted in the Visayas and Mindanao, respectively.

SWS said the steady self-rated food poverty rate was due to four- and five-point increases in Metro Manila and Balance Luzon, respectively, and six- and seven-point declines in Visayas and Mindanao.

Food budget

The survey also showed that the national median self-rated food poverty threshold, or the monthly budget that a food-poor household needs for food expenses in order not to consider its food as poor, was at P5,000.

The national median self-rated food poverty gap, or the amount that food-poor families lacked in monthly food expenses relative to their stated threshold, was P2,000. These values were lower in September 2017 compared with June 2017, and were similar to the December 2016 and March 2017 amounts.

The third-quarter SWS survey had sampling error margins of ±2.5 percent for national percentages, ±4 percent for Luzon, and ±6 percent each for Metro Manila, the Visayas, and Mindanao.

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