Intractability of Poverty…Inequality must be dealt with

[The title is attributed to Secretary Joel Rocamora during the press conference today, 23 April 2013.] 

My two earlier posts on income distribution point to the obvious, – that income distribution appears to be set in concrete to the disadvantage of the non-rich.


Press Release


Poverty incidence unchanged,
as of first semester 2012—NSCB
Filipino Version
(NSCB-PR-201304-NS1-04, Posted23 April 2012)

The National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) releases its latest report today on the state of poverty in the country. The report— using data from the Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES) conducted by the National Statistics Office (NSO) last July 2012– measured poverty incidence or the proportion of people below the poverty line to the total population.

In a press briefing, NSCB Secretary General Jose Ramon G. Albert reports that poverty incidence among population was estimated at 27.9 percent during the first semester of 2012.  Comparing this with the 2006 and 2009 first semester figures estimated at 28.8 percent and 28.6 percent, respectively, poverty remained unchanged as the computed differences are not statistically significant.

Food and poverty thresholds

The report points out that during the first semester of 2012, a Filipino family of five needed PhP 5,458 to meet basic food needs every month and Php 7,821 to stay above the poverty threshold (basic food and non-food needs) every month. These respective amounts represent the food and poverty thresholds, which increased by 11.1 percent from the first semester of 2009 to the first half of 2012, compared to the 26.0 percent-increase between the 1st semesters of 2006 and 2009.  

The food threshold is the minimum income required by an individual to meet his/her basic food needs and satisfy the nutritional requirements set by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI), while remaining economically and socially productive. Put another way, the food threshold helps measure food poverty or “subsistence,” which may also be described as extreme poverty.

Poverty threshold is a similar concept, but incorporates basic non-food needs, such as clothing, housing, transportation, health, and education expenses, among others.

Poverty among Filipino families

The NSCB also releases statistics on poverty among families—a crucial social indicator that guides policy makers in their efforts to alleviate poverty.

According to the report, the subsistence incidence, which represents the proportion of Filipino families in extreme poverty, was estimated at 10.0 percent during the first semester of 2012. At 10.0 percent in the first semester of 2009 and 10.8 percent in the first half of 2006, the differences among these three figures remain statistically insignificant.

In terms of poverty incidence among families, the NSCB estimates a rate of 22.3 percent during the first semester of 2012, and 23.4 percent and 22.9 percent during the same periods in 2006 and 2009, respectively.

Estimated cost of eradicating poverty

The NSCB also releases other poverty-related statistics, such as the income gap. This measures the amount of income required by the poor in order to get out of poverty, in relation to the poverty threshold itself. This may be used as a hypothetical benchmark for the amount needed to eradicate poverty as a whole, assuming expenses are focused solely on assistance rather than on targeting costs (such as operations and implementation). 

In other words, using figures for the income gap and the poverty threshold, the NSCB estimates the total cost of poverty eradication (exclusive of targeting costs) is Php 79.7 billion for the first semester of 2012. It should be noted that the budget of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for the CCT was Php 39.4 billion for the entirety of 2012.

More frequent release of poverty statistics

The release of the latest official poverty statistics is a remarkable milestone for the country. In previous years, official poverty statistics were only released every three years, and usually with a one-year time lag from the year when the FIES data was first collected. However, starting this year, poverty statistics will be available in two series for every year in which the FIES is conducted—once, for the first semester and secondly, for the entire year.

In August 2012, Director General Arsenio Balisacan of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) suggested to the NSCB and the NSO to examine FIES data for the first semester of 2012 and release it as quickly as possible. This is consistent with earlier efforts and discussions of the TC PovStat and the NSCB to respond to the growing need for more frequent and timely poverty statistics.

Albert says that the NSCB—along with partner institutions such as the NSO, the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) and the members of the TC PovStat – ramped up the estimation and publication schedule to make this possible, while ensuring data quality and accuracy.

He hopes that, through this initiative , the Philippine Statistical System, particularly the NSCB, will be able to deliver a clearer, more relevant and more up-to-date snapshot of poverty in the Philippines to help policymakers and stakeholders alike (from both the public and private sectors) craft informed programs and policies based on timely and accurate statistics. 



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Filed under income distribution, Philippine development, Philippines, statistics

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