Written by Clarissa David and Catherine Faith Hoggang
Infographics by Ma. Daniella Borrero
Millions of Filipinos live below the poverty line, many earn less than a “subsistence level” income, according to the Philippine Statistical Agency’s (PSA) 2015 estimates.
The poverty line, or what the PSA calls the “poverty threshold,” is the minimum amount of money needed by a family to afford the most basic food and non-food requirements. In areas where food and other needs are expensive, the threshold is high. The top most expensive provinces with the highest thresholds are Batanes, Zambales, Metro Manila, Cavite, and Bataan. In NCR, the threshold is PhP 2,083 per person each month. This means that for a person living in NCR to be considered non-poor they have to have at least that amount per month.
The national average of the poverty threshold is PhP 21,753 per person per year. Given these thresholds, 16.5% of families, or 3.75 million live below the poverty line.
If it seems like these poverty thresholds are low that’s because they are. On a daily basis, a person who has any more than 60 pesos per day to spend is not considered poor. This means that the quality of life of those just above the poverty line is still low.
Wide disparities in poverty incidence
The incidence of poverty is not spread evenly across different areas of the country. There are provinces which suffer from very high rates of poverty, nearing or above 50%.
Below is a map showing different levels of poverty incidence per province. Darker red colors mean higher poverty incidence. The poorest provinces include Lanao del sur (66.3% of families), Sulu (49.6%), Siquijor (48.9%), Maguindanao (48.8%), and Northern Samar (47.9%).
Subsistence-level poverty is determined through the “food poverty” threshold, or the amount of money needed by a person to be able to afford just enough food to subsist. This is much lower than the poverty threshold, PhP 15,189 nationally, translating to only Ph 42 per person per day.
Based on the 2015 estimates, 5.7 percent of families are food poor. This means 1.30 million families in the Philippines live in abject poverty, not having enough money to afford the minimum amount of food needed by their relatives.
Families that live just above the poverty line are highly vulnerable to sinking below it. It only takes one family illness, experience of a natural disaster, or loss of a job, to drive a near-poor family into poverty.
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