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SWS survey: Half, or 14m, Filipino families call selves poor in Q1 ‘23

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At least 51 percent of Filipino families or around 14 million households considered themselves as poor during the first quarter of 2023, according to the latest survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations.

The SWS survey, conducted from March 26 to 29, also found that 30% of families rated themselves as “borderline” poor and 19% rated themselves as not poor, similar to the figure recorded in December 2022.

“The estimated numbers of Self-Rated Poor families are 14 million in March 2023 and 12.9 million in December 2022. To arrive at the estimated numbers of Self-Rated Poor families, the percentage of respondent households rating themselves as poor was applied to the Philippine Statistics Authority medium-population projections for 2023 and 2022, respectively,” the SWS survey said.

According to the National Economic and Development Authority, families tend to self-rate themselves as poor when the inflation rate, particularly food inflation, is high.

“The SWS survey results for March 2023 reflect that tendency, even as the labor market conditions have been improving, as shown by recent months of PSA surveys. That is why we have been working hard to address the issues contributing to the price elevation in recent months,” NEDA said in a statement.

“The administration has succeeded in reducing overall inflation in the past three months, as shown also by PSA survey data. We have, however, much more work to do as the government targets inflation to return to low levels of 2 to 4 percent by the end of the year,” it added.

The steady percentage in the “self-rated poor” figure nationwide is the result of increases in the National Capital Region and the Visayas, a decline in Balance Luzon (Luzon outside of Metro Manila), and steady numbers in Mindanao, SWS said.

In Metro Manila, families who rated themselves as poor rose from 32% in December to 40%; in the Visayas, the percentage rose from 58% to 65%. It attributed the “steady” nationwide self-rated poor figure between December 2022 and March 2023 to the “increases in Metro Manila and the Visayas, combined with a decline in Balance Luzon, or Luzon outside Metro Manila) and a steady score in Mindanao.”

“Compared to December 2022, self-rated poor rose in Metro Manila from 32 percent to 40 percent and in the Visayas from 58 percent to 65 percent. However, it fell in Balance Luzon from 49 percent to 43 percent, while it was statistically steady in Mindanao, moving from 59 percent to 62 percent,” SWS said.

For the data on borderline, the SWS said it “did not statistically change” in Metro Manila from 29% to 26%, in Balance Luzon from 30% to 32%, and in Mindanao from 30% to 33%. In the Visayas, meanwhile, it fell from 34% to 26%.

More families rated themselves not poor in Balance Luzon, which increased from 20% to 25%. It was the opposite in Metro Manila, which declined from 39% to 33% and in Mindanao from 11% to 6%. Data in Visayas remained at 9%.

The latest SWS survey also asked the self-rated poor if they had ever experienced being non-poor, either not poor or borderline, in the past.

SWS found that the total percentage of poor families consisted of 6.5 percent who were non-poor one to four years ago, 6.7 percent who were non-poor five or more years ago, and 37.9 percent who never experienced being non-poor.

It classified those who were non-poor one to four years ago as “newly poor,” those who were non-poor five or more years ago as “usually poor,” and those who never experienced being non-poor as “always poor.”

“Of the estimated 14.0 million self-rated poor families in March 2023, 1.8 million were newly poor, 1.8 million were usually poor, and 10.4 million were always poor,” it said.

The March 2023 survey was conducted through face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults nationwide. The sampling error margins are ±2.8% for national percentages, ±5.7% each for Metro Manila, Balance Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

The survey was conducted from March 26 to 29, with face-to-face interviews of 1,200 Filipinos aged 18 and above in Metro Manila, balance Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

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