About 9.4 million or 52 percent of Filipino families still consider themselves poor, the latest survey showed.
The Fourth Quarter 2008 Social Weather Survey (SWS) also showed that 24 percent of the respondents rate themselves on the “borderline” of poverty while 24 percent consider themselves not poor.
The latest figure was the same as the September 2008 figure of 52 percent.
“The self-rated poverty rate has ranged from 50 to 52 percent for the most part of 2008, spiking up only once to 59 percent (estimated 10.6 million) in the second quarter,” the SWS said.
The non-commissioned survey, conducted from Nov. 28 to Dec. 1 last year, used face-to-face interviews of 1,500 adults in Metro Manila, the balance of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
“The latest self-rated poverty figure brings the 2008 average to 53 percent. It is similar to the 54 percent average of 2006, and slightly above the 50 percent average of 2007,” the survey firm said.
The December 2008 survey also found that 42 percent of Filipino families or about 7.7 million consider themselves “Food-Poor,” 30 percent put themselves on the “Food-Borderline,” and 28 percent consider themselves as “Not Food-Poor,” the SWS said.
The latest self-rated food poverty is four points up from 38 percent (estimated 6.9 million) in September 2008.
“This brings the 2008 average to 42 percent, similar to the 42 percent average of 2006, and four points higher than the 38 percent average of 2007,” the SWS said.
It added that poverty rates declined in Luzon but rose in Mindanao and in the National Capital Region.
After declining by two points from 53 percent in June 2008 to 51 percent in September, self-rated poverty in Luzon – outside of Metro Manila – again declined by seven points to 44 percent in December 2008, just two points above its record-low of 42 percent in March 2005, the SWS said.
Self-rated poverty is at 60 percent in the Visayas, similar to 59 percent in the previous quarter after declining from 66 percent in June 2008, it said.
It rose by five points in Metro Manila, from 48 percent in September to 53 percent in December, and by seven points in Mindanao, from 52 percent to 59 percent.
SWS said self-rated poverty in urban areas fell by two points, from 49 percent to 47 percent, while it stayed at 56 percent in rural areas.
Self-rated food poverty also declined anew in balance Luzon. Its latest figure of 35 percent is three points down from 38 percent in September, which was six points down from 44 percent in June, the SWS said.
The one-quarter rise in self-rated food poverty is sharpest in Mindanao, SWS said. It rose by 20 points, from a record-low 31 percent in September to 51 percent in December.
It rose by two points in Metro Manila, from 40 percent to 42 percent, and by six points in balance Luzon, from 44 percent to 50 percent.
SWS said the self-rated poverty threshold, or the monthly budget that poor households need in order not to consider themselves poor in general, has been sluggish for several years despite considerable inflation.
“This indicates that poor families have been lowering their living standards, i.e., belt-tightening,” it said.
The survey used sampling error margins of plus or minus 2.5 percent for national percentages, plus or minus six percent for Metro Manila, Visayas and Mindanao, and plus or minus four percent for balance Luzon.
For poor households, the median poverty threshold in Metro Manila stayed at P10,000, even though it had already reached as much as P15,000 several times in the past. For those in Mindanao, the median poverty threshold stayed at P5,000, though it had already been at P10,000 before, the SWS said.
The median poverty thresholds of poor households rose slightly to P7,000 in balance Luzon, and to P6,000 in the Visayas, but had also already reached P10,000 before for both areas, it said.
The median food-poverty thresholds for poor households in December 2008 dwindled to P5,000 in Metro Manila, while it stayed at P4,000 in balance Luzon. It rose slightly to P4,000 in the Visayas and to P3,000 in Mindanao. These levels had already been reached several years ago, the SWS said.
In Metro Manila in particular, the median poverty threshold is still P10,000 as in 2000, even though the Consumer Price Index (CPI) there has risen by about 58 percent since, the SWS said.
The NCR median poverty threshold of P10,000 per month for December 2008 is equivalent to only P6,489 in base year 2000 purchasing power, after deflation by the CPI. The deflated poverty threshold for NCR of below P7,000 per month is a throwback to living standards of 20 years ago, it said.
SWS said that in its four surveys in 2000, the base year of the CPI, the median SWS poverty threshold for NCR was already P10,000 per month, equivalent to P15,410 per month at the December 2008 cost of living, given the CPI of 154.1.
“The difference of P15,410 – P 10,000 = P5,410 between the thresholds of 2000 and December 2008 measures the extent of belt-tightening that took place,” it said.
On the other hand, median food poverty threshold of P5,000 in Metro Manila is equivalent to only P3,376 in base year 2000 purchasing power for food.
“The median food poverty threshold in December 2000 was P6,000 for Metro Manila. It is equivalent to P8,886 per month at the December 2008 cost of food, given the latest CPI of 148.1 for food items. The difference of P8,886 – P6,000 = P2,886 between the food thresholds of 2000 and December 2008 is the extent of belt-tightening made by food-poor Metro Manila households,” the SWS said.–Helen Flores, Philippine Star