By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
More Filipino families consider themselves poor in the third quarter Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey results.
The nationwide survey conducted last September 23-27 with 1,500 respondents found 47 percent or an estimated 10.9 million families considering themselves “mahirap” or poor.
SWS said this is three points above the 44 percent (about 10.1 million) households in June 2017.
It noted that the proportion of poor families has increased significantly from 44 percent in December 2016 to 50 percent in March 2017.
SWS said that prior to the September 2017 survey, the results had been either steady or declining for nine consecutive quarters, from the fourth quarter of 2014 to the fourth quarter of 2016.
Self-rated poverty increased by 16 points in the rest of Luzon, from 34 percent in June 2017 to 50 percent in September 2017. This is similar to the 50 percent in March 2017.
It rose by three points in Metro Manila, from 28 percent in June to 31 percent in September. This was previously surpassed by the 36 percent in March 2017.
However, it decreased by 12 points in Mindanao, from 57 percent in June to 45 percent in September. This is the lowest rate of self-rated poverty in Mindanao since the record-low 38 percent in December 2011.
It also decreased by eight points in Visayas, from 64 percent in June to 56 percent in September. Prior to June 2017, it ranged from 52 to 57 percent since April 2016.
Since December 2014, SWS asked its self-rated poor respondents if they have ever experienced not being poor, and if so, when they most recently experienced it.
The latest survey found that three-fourths of self-rated poor families, or 36 percent of Filipino families have always been poor.
It found that one-fourth of self-rated poor families, or 11 percent of families, were not poor sometime in the past.
Of these 11 percent, 6 percent are newly poor, meaning they became poor sometime in the last four years, and 5 percent are usually poor, meaning they became poor five or more years ago.
SWS also asked its self-rated non-poor (including borderline) respondents if they have ever experienced being poor, and if so, when they most recently experienced it.
It found that half of self-rated non-poor families or 25 percent of families have never been poor.
Likewise, half of non-poor families or 27 percent of families were poor sometime in the past. Of these, 11 percent are newly non-poor, meaning they were poor sometime in the last four years, and 15 percent are usually non-poor, meaning they were poor five or more years ago.
The median self-rated poverty threshold or the monthly budget that a poor household needs for home expenses in order not to consider itself poor in general is P10,000.
This has been the case since September 2016, SWS said.
The survey also found that the median self-rated poverty gap or the amount poor families lack in monthly home expenses relative to their stated threshold was unchanged at P5,000 or one-half of the self-rated poverty threshold.
In the September survey, it also found that 32 percent or about 7.4 million families rating their food as poor, termed by SWS as “food-poor.”
This is similar to the 32 percent or estimated 7.3 million in June 2017 but below the 35 percent of March 2017.
Prior to this, self-rated food poverty averaged 31 percent in 2016 and 35 percent in 2015.
Self-rate food poverty increased by five points in rest of Luzon, from 27 percent in June 2017 to 32 percent in September 2017.
It also increased by four points in Metro Manila, from 16 percent in June to to 20 percent in September.
However, self-rated food poverty declined by seven points in Mindanao, from 41 percent in June to 34 percent in September.
It also declined by six points in the Visayas, from 44 percent in June to 38 percent in September.
Meanwhile, 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 is at P5,000.
The national median self-rated food poverty gap or the amount food-poor families lack in monthly food expenses relative to their stated threshold, is P2,000, or 40 percent of the self-rated food poverty threshold.
SWS said these values are lower in September 2017 compared with their June 2017 counterparts, and are similar to their December 2016 and March 2017 counterparts.
Likewise, since June 2017, SWS has asked its respondents how much their family spends on transportation in a month.
The September survey found that Filipino households spend a median of P1,000 on monthly transportation.