Category Archives: Philippine development

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

Family Income Distribution in the Philippines, 1985-2009: Essentially the Same

0.  From the following data and discussion we may be able to form conclusions on whether the distribution of income has become more equitable/equal over the past five (5) decades.   With percentile data, I will present different ways of grouping families according to income obtained from the Family Income and Expenditures (FIES) surveys, the latest of which is for 2009.  I will divide the distribution at the median; look at the top one (1) percent families; examine the coefficients of variation (CVs) at the percentiles; compare Gini coefficients; and, even though lacking in statistical rigor, impose the socio-economic classification of classes A, B, C, D and E on the percentile distribution.
A.  Median incomes

1.  The median income from 1961 to 2009, nearly half a century, splits the upper 50 percent with an 80 percent share of income and the lower half, with 20 percent.

As of 2009, the distribution appears to be the same at the end of Martial Law days.

Table 1.  Median Income and Income Distribution, 1961 – 2009
Family Income 1961 1985 2000 2003 2006 2009
Median income (x P1,000) 1 20 89 95 111 135
% Income Share of upper 50% families 82 80 82 81 81 80
% Income Share of lower 50 % families 18 20 18 19 19 20
Source: National Statistics Office.  Website:; Family Income and Expenditures publications; Unpublished percentile data on incomes.

B.  Incomes of Top 1% families

2. In 1985, right before EDSA 1, the families in the top 1 percent (numbering about 100 thousand) of the income distribution earned an aggregate income of PhP 31.4 billion.  This is nearly what the combined 3.15 million families (or 32 percent) in the lower brackets of the distribution earned, which amounted to PhP 31.3 billion.

3. In 2000, right before EDSA 2, the top 1 percent families (numbering about 150 thousand) in the income distribution earned an aggregate income of PhP 251.2 billion.  This is nearly what the combined 5.8 million families (or 38 percent) in the lower brackets of the distribution earned, which amounted to PhP 249.6 billion.

4. In 2003, before the end of the first term of Mrs. Arroyo, the top 1 percent families (numbering about 165 thousand) in the income distribution earned an aggregate income of PhP 235.0 billion (hard to imagine that this declined by 6.4 percent from 2000 but this is the official figure).  This is nearly what the combined 5.3 million families (or 32 percent) in the lower brackets of the distribution earned, which amounted to PhP 227.1 billion.

5. In 2006, before the national elections, the top 1 percent families (numbering about 174 thousand) in the income distribution earned an aggregate income of PhP 256.3 billion.  This is nearly what the combined 5.2 million families (or 30 percent) in the lower brackets of the distribution earned, which amounted to PhP 257.9 billion.

6. In 2009, before the last national elections, some 185 thousand ‘top 1 percent’ families earned the equivalent of what 5.5 million ‘bottom 30-percent’ families collectively earned.

7. The 1:30 ratio in 2009 remained, or stabilized, at the same ratio in 2006.

Table 2.  Top 1% Families and Bottom % Families – Income Comparison
1985 2000 2003 2006 2009
Number of Top 1% Families (x1000) 100 150 165 174 185
Aggregate Income (PhP billion) 31.4 251.2 235 256.3 342.7
Equivalent to
Number of Families (in millions) 3.15 5.8 5.3 5.2 5.5
% of Total 32% 38% 32% 30% 30%
Aggregate Income (PhP billion) 31.3 249.6 227.1 257.9 343
Source: National Statistics Office.  Unpublished percentile data on incomes.

These results raise even more concern when one looks at the top individual taxpayers of 2009 released by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) in accordance with Section 71 of the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997.  These individuals may not have been covered by the survey as their transactions would be categorized in statistical parlance as ‘rare events’ and thus would have little chance or probability of being selected as samples.

Table 3. BIR Top Individual Taxpayers 2009
Rank Taxpayer Tax Due
1 Elaine B. Gardiola P59.54 million
2 Wilfredo B. Revillame P57.25-million
3 Ronaldo R. Soliman P36.70 million
4 Ramon S. Ang P26.44 million
5 Oscar M. Lopez P25.70 million
66 Henry Sy, Sr P25.18 million
7 Carlos D.C. Ejercito P25.02 million
8 Bonifacio D. Gumboc, Jr P24.74 million
9 Ma. Teresa Caridad P. Gallego P24.45 million
10 Felipe L. Gozon P22.20 million
500 Hitoshi Goto P 3.57 million

Thus this is evidence that the families in the top 1 percent in the income distribution would be under-represented in the survey.  And these should have a higher income share, than is reflected in the FIES, and would further skew the distribution.

C. Coefficients of Variation of the Percentiles

7.  The coefficient of variation (CV) is the standard error expressed in terms of the arithmetic mean (average).  It is a measure of dispersion, a measure of disparity.  The coefficient of variation is useful because the standard deviation of data can be better understood in the context of the arithmetic mean of the data.  The following graphs chart out the CVs of income percentile data obtained from the NSO over many years.

8.  There are no significant changes aside from those at the tails, both at the lowest and highest ends.  The general outlook of the distribution is that of a ‘flat-liner’, bereft of activity showing change.  The family incomes are clustered closely together.  In 2009, eighty-nine (89) 0f the 100 percentile CVs were no greater than 0.1 percent.[2]

Table 4. Distribution of Percentile CVs, 2009
CV (in %) Frequency
0.01 -0.1 89
0.11 – 0.2 6
0.21 – 0.3 2
0.31 – 0.4
0.41 – 0.5 1
0.51 – 0.6
0.61 – 0.7
0.71 – 0.7
0.81 – 0.9
0.91 – 1.0 1
1.01 + 1

Groupings based on a cut-off, for instance, a point/line representing the poverty threshold imposed on these charts would appear to be insufficient.  Income alone would not be a valid indicator of poverty classification because of the observed ‘homogeneity’ of incomes.

D. Gini Cofficient

9.  The Gini coefficient is a measure of the inequality of a distribution, a value of 0 expressing total equality and a value of 1 maximal inequality.  The Gini coefficient is usually defined mathematically based on the Lorenz curve, which plots the proportion of the total income of the population (y axis) that is cumulatively earned by the bottom x% of the population.

10.  However, a low coefficient does not always mean an ideal condition.  It could be that many incomes are similar (either low or high).  In the Philippine example the acknowledged ‘income-poor’ Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao has the lowest coefficient followed by the ‘richer’ regions, such as the National Capital Region (NCR) and Central Luzon (Region III).

11. The ARMM had the lowest Gini ratio while Regions 8, 9 and 10 had the highest ratios.

Table 5. Gini ratios, 2009
Region Ratio
A R M M 0.2948
N C R 0.3953
REGION IV B 0.4004
REGION IV A 0.4063
REGION I 0.4086
REGION V 0.4164
REGION VI 0.4197
C A R 0.4212
REGION XI 0.4275
REGION II 0.4425
Caraga 0.4595
REGION X 0.4737
REGION IX 0.4738

Table 6. Gini ratios, 2006
Region Ratio
A R M M 0.3113
REGION I 0.3953
N C R 0.3988
REGION IV A 0.4082
REGION IV B 0.4106
REGION II 0.4216
REGION XI 0.4225
REGION VI 0.4326
C A R 0.4418
REGION V 0.4428
Caraga 0.4452
REGION X 0.4806
REGION IX 0.5054

11.  Nevertheless, the movement of the coefficient at the national level showed an indication of more equality or less inequality over the years, with the highest being in 1997 and 2000.

Table 7. Gini Coefficient, Philippines
Year Coefficient
1 1985 0.4466
2 1988 0.4446
3 1991 0.468
4 1994 0.4507
5 1997 0.4872
6 2000 0.4822
7 2003 0.4605
8 2006 0.458
9 2009 0.4484

12.  Of 135 countries and dependencies listed in the World Fact Book of the Central Intelligence Asia (CIA), the following rankings can be obtained.  It is clear that the Gini ratio is not always reflective of state of a country’s development[3].

Table 8. Countries with the lowest Gini Ratios
Country Gini ratio Reference Year
Sweden 23 2005
Norway 25 2008
Austria 26 2007
Czech Republic 26 2005
Luxembourg 26 2005
Malta 26 2007
Serbia 26 2008
Slovakia 26 2005
Albania 26.7 2005
Germany 27 2006

Table 9. Countries with the Highest Gini Ratios
Country Gini ratio Reference Year
Brazil 56.7 2005
Colombia 58.5 2008
Bolivia 59.2 2006
Haiti 59.2 2001
Central African Republic 61.3 1993
Sierra Leone 62.9 1989
Botswana 63 1993
Lesotho 63.2 1995
South Africa 65 2005
Namibia 70.7 2003

13.  Among the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), it was Laos with the lowest Gini, and Singapore with the highest..

Table 10. ASEAN Countries’ Gini Ratios
Country Gini ratio Reference Year
Laos 34.6 2002
Vietnam 37 2004
Indonesia 39.4 2005
Cambodia 43 2007 est.
Thailand 43 2006
Philippines 45.8 2006
Malaysia 46.1 2002
Singapore 48.1 2008
Myanmar N/A N/A

E.  ABCDE Socio-economic classification

14.  Market/opinion researchers classify according through proxies of wealth/assets, aside from measure of income to segment the (consumer) market.  These proxies may include conditions in the community where the residence of the respondent is, the types of materials used for the house, household furnishings, ownership of house and/or lot.

15.  From the 16 April 2007 release of Pulse Asia, its nationally-representative sample has seven (7) percent making up classes A, B, and C; sixty-seven (67) percent, class D; and twenty-five (25) percent, class E.  This breakdown has a sampling error of +/- 3 percent.  [Statistically speaking, classes ABC may be 4 to 10 percent of the population; class D, 64-70 percent; and class E, 22-28 percent.]

16.  In 2010, the breakdown became: 9 percent for class ABC; 62 percent for class D; and 29 percent for class E.  Class ABC can be further subdivided into class AB, 0.3 percent, and class C, 8.6 percent, although Pulse Asia estimates an undercount of class AB.


Table 11: Percent Distribution of Families, by Socio-Economic Class
Socio Economic Class Percent Share of Families to Total
2007 2010 My guess-timate*
ABC 7 9 10
of which: AB n.a. 0.3** 1
C n.a. 8.6 9
D 68 62 60
E 25 29 30
Source: Pulse Asia, in consultation with Dr. Ana Tabunda 

Note: * – Rounded off but within +/- 3% standard errors of 2010 figures

** -Undercounted due to refusals of AB respondents


17   While statistical rigor will not be as robust, we can apply the above percentages [my guess-timates] to the income distribution and find out how much income these classes earned in during the reference years.

Table 12. Percent Distribution of Families and Incomes, by Socio-Economic Class, 1985
CLASS Families Cumulative Income Average Income
Number Share Amount Share
(x 1000) % (x PhP 1 million) % (x PhP 1000)
ABC 985 10 111,420 36 113
D 5,908 60 165,857 54 28
E 2,954 30 28,498 9 10
Total 9847 100 305,775 100 31
Table 13. Percent Distribution of Families and Incomes, by Socio-Economic Class, 2000
CLASS Families Cumulative Income Average Income
Number Share Amount Share
(x 1000) % (x PhP 1 million) % (x PhP 1000)
ABC 1,507 10 838,445 38 556
D 9,043 60 1,174,919 54 130
E 4,522 30 173,886 8 38
Total 15072 100 2,187,250 100 145
Table 14. Percent Distribution of Families and Incomes, by Socio-Economic Class, 2003
CLASS Families Cumulative Income Average Income
Number Share Amount Share
(x 1000) % (x PhP 1 million) % (x PhP 1000)
ABC 1,648 10 884,478 36 537
D 9,888 60 1,346,581 55 136
E 4,944 30 206,191 8 42
Total 16480 100 2,437,250 100 148
Table 15. Percent Distribution of Families and Incomes, by Socio-Economic Class, 2006
CLASS Families Cumulative Income Average Income
Number Share Amount Share
(x 1000) % (x PhP 1 million) % (x PhP 1000)
ABC 1,740 10 1,082,478 36 622
D 10,442 60 1,669,309 56 160
E 5,221 30 254,316 8 49
Total 17,403 100 3,006,104 100 173
Table 16. Percent Distribution of Families and Incomes, by Socio-Economic Class, 2009
CLASS Families Cumulative Income Average Income
Number Share Amount Share
(x 1000) % (x PhP 1 million) % (x PhP 1000)
ABC 1,845 10 1,343,697 35 728
D 11,071 60 2,117,478 56 191
E 5,536 30 343,150 9 62
Total 18,452 100 3,804,325 100 206

18.  When class ABC is further subdivided into class AB and class C, it becomes apparent that class AB could be the top 1 percent, with an income share equal to that of class E.

Table 16-A. Percent Distribution of Families and Incomes, by Modified Socio-Economic Class, 2009
CLASS Families Cumulative Income Average Income
Number Share Amount Share
(x 1000) % (x PhP 1 million) % (x PhP 1000)
AB 185 1 342,736 9 1,857
C 1,661 9 1,000,960 26 603
D 11,071 60 2,117,478 56 191
E 5,536 30 343,150 9 62
Total 18,452 100 3,804,325 100 206

19. In summary, the shares of income of class ABC ranged from 35-38, class D, from 54-56, and class E, from 8-9 percent during the past, nearly a quarter-century, period from 1985-2009.

20.  The good news is that the income distribution has not worsened.  The bad news is that it has remained essentially the same..

G.  Summary

21.  From the following data and discussion we can surmise that development efforts for the past five (5) decades have failed to effect an equitable/equal distribution of income.

  • The median split has been at 82:18 to 80:20 in favor of the families at upper fifty (50) percent over the past fifty (50) years.
  • The top one (1) percent families earned income equivalent to income earned by 32 percent of the families at the bottom of the income ladder in 1985.  This peaked to 38 percent in 2000, was replicated in 2003, and moved down to 30 percent in 2006 and 2009.  In twenty-five (25) years the top 1 percent gave up two (2) percent to the families at the bottom rungs.
  • The CVs show very little variation at the percentiles except those at the extreme ends, indicating little spread of income across the entire distribution.
  • The Gini coefficient, with its measure of inequality subject to misinterpretation, had moved up during the ‘Baht’ financial crisis, and down from then on.  The Gini ratio of the Philippines is neither among the highest nor the lowest in the world, including ASEAN.
  • The shares of income of class ABC ranged from 35-38, class D, from 54-56, and class E, from 8-9 percent the past twenty-five (25) years from 1985-2009

22.  There is also utter lack of information on the distribution of family income which the government, particularly the National Statistics Office (NSO) and the statistical system, need to address.  Perhaps one of the reasons why the distribution has generally remained unchanged is because even if many think that this is so, there has been insufficient empirical evidence to establish its extent and chronicity.

23.  I also urge the government to come up with an official definition of the often-used ABCDE socio-economic classification and the ‘generic’ low-middle-high income classes.   in cooperation with the academe and private sector.  These are terms that many policy and decision-makers and the general public have come to accept and use rather than deciles, quintiles and percentiles and the government can respond by standardizing these and help improve the statistical literacy of society, in this case on income distribution.

[2] On the basis of this observation, a review of the sampling scheme may be valid since it appears that the sampling size can be reduced with the very low CVs; this may be the case of surveying ‘more of the same’.  The soundness of sub-national results may also be evaluated by examining relevant CVs at the percentiles/ /quintiles/deciles.  The FIES questionnaire should also be reviewed in this light; it has 950 items, with 234 on income, 677 on expenditures and others, 39.

[3] It has been pointed out that Gini coefficients can be computed using income or expenditure /consumption data and this should be considered when comparing country coefficients.


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GMA employment record: Good, bad and ugly

[This was published in The Philippine Daily Inquirer and first posted on their website on 04:08:00 07/24/2009]

MANILA, Philippines — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has not been remiss in pointing to employment as one of the main welfare issues, along with poverty, health and education, in her State of the Nation Addresses (SONAs) since 2001.

However, the Arroyo administration’s scorecard in employment has been mixed—with a few “good” grades, some “bad” ones and some “ugly” marks.

The target of one million additional jobs has been met several times since 2006. The job increases in January (1.5 million) and April 2007 (1 million) could be due to the campaign activities for the general elections in May that year.

From July 2008 to April 2009 there was evidence from the Labor Force Survey that on average, an additional million jobs had also been created—1.3 million in July 2008, 800,000 in October 2008, 600,000 in January 2009 and 1.5 million in April 2009.

The Department of Labor and Employment attributes this increase to the government’s focus on employment generation and preservation as a crucial strategy aimed at helping people cope with the economic crunch.

Strong labor demand

The measures taken by the government to generate jobs include the Comprehensive Livelihood and Emergency Employment Program (CLEEP) that employs low-income and unemployed workers in various government projects.

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration reported that a total of 1,236,013 Filipinos were deployed for work abroad in 2008, which was 14.7 percent higher than the year before.

The potential effects of the continuing global economic slowdown on deployment have been mitigated by the strong labor demand in Middle East countries like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Oman.

The ‘bad’

The SONA 2008 featured the plight of several disadvantaged members of society.

“I worry about the poor housewife who is burdened with the responsibility of raising a family. I worry about the farmer who is on the frontline of producing food but struggles to feed his own family,” Ms Arroyo said.

“I care for hardworking students soon to graduate and wanting to see hope [in a] good job and a career prospect here at home. I worry about the 41-year-old household head who supports a wife and three children, but cannot work daily. He should be given additional income and honor,” she added.

However, the concerns of these sectors have become even more real since July 2008.

Job seekers have found work in the combined services sectors: trade, transport, private households and public administration. Trade means sari-sari stores, buy-and-sell, four-gives.

Padyak-cabs would be categorized under transport; namamasukan (domestic helpers) and naglalaba (laundry women) would be under private households. Public administration would refer to government programs CLEEP and Oyster (Out-of-School Youth Striving Toward Economic Recovery).


Agriculture employment has also increased but this has not reversed the shift of workers leaving the sector because of low pay, climate change, decreasing hectarage for farming and limited opportunities in rural areas.

Looking back over the past years, there has been no sustainable jobs added to industry.

The government programs have raised the number of paid workers, but a similar increase is seen in the number of unpaid family workers, which does not bear the quality of sustainability and sufficiency.

In the April 2009 Labor Force Survey, the additional 1.5 million jobs were net of the increase of 2.6 million workers who worked for less than 40 hours a week and of the decrease of about 1.1 million workers who worked for 40 hours or more.

The ‘ugly’

Government’s chosen investment and employment strategies, weighed down by poor governance and external market disturbances, have created structural problems that would take more than an administration’s term (of six years) to straighten out. These can be termed “uglies.”

Workers in agriculture have shifted to the service sectors. Clearly, there will be repercussions on food self-sufficiency, and shortages would be met by importation.

There are the formal services sectors (banks, insurance companies, real estate firms, telecom companies, bus firms, call centers and supermarkets) and the much-bigger informal sectors (as described above), which catch surplus labor and subject workers to long hours of work, exceeding 50 hours a week, and to lower pay.

These, coupled with the declining employment in industry, set us farther back from the administration’s dream of joining the ranks of developed countries in 2020. This declaration could have been made in Magic Kingdom.

Emergency mode

Investments and jobs in industry turn out products that use inputs from other sectors, like structural concrete needing cement and basic metal products, and that are used by other industries to make their own, like construction using structural concrete materials.

However, the Arroyo administration that has been operating in an emergency mode due to a lack of public trust and legitimacy for most of its term has not delivered on raising industrial output.

It remains to be seen whether all Ms Arroyo’s official trips abroad will indeed translate into more stable and productive jobs in the years to come.

It is not clear if the deployment of workers overseas is a development objective—economic, perhaps; social, iffy.

Key to better life

Remittances from overseas workers have indeed fueled the growth in personal and household consumption and, consequently, in the gross domestic product.

But does this outweigh negative consequences such as physically divided families, children growing up with single or absent parents, exploitative recruiters, and abusive households and enterprises?

It can be argued that this is a temporary strategy in the face of domestic and global economic uncertainty. But in the consciousness of many Filipinos, work abroad on a permanent basis is the key to a “better” life.

1M entering labor force

Last but not the least, planners should be aware that on average one million people have been entering the labor force in search of work since April 2008, much more than the historical 350,000 job seekers.

The target of one million jobs will no longer stimulate growth and elicit applause in a SONA, but may still serve as one of the yardsticks for accommodating the new entrants to the labor force.

Ms Arroyo should consider promising two million additional jobs in this coming SONA to make a meaningful change in our employment situation.

(Editor’s Note: Tomas “Butch” Africa is a former administrator of the National Statistics Office, principally responsible for the nationwide surveys and censuses conducted from 1989 to 2000. A retired director of the United Nations Statistical Institute of Asia and the Pacific, he is now working as the regional adviser for Asia of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. He is currently the vice president of the Philippine Statistical Association.)

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Most Common Family Planning Methods: Pills and Withdrawal

1. The contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) or the proportion of married women in the Philippines who are using any method of family planning, is 51 percent, according to the preliminary results of the 2008 National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) conducted by the National Statistics Office.

My up-to-date definition would be that CPR is the ratio of married women who have sex and have no intention of having a baby, whether with consent or not, with video or not, and with ecstasy before or after or none at all.

2. The current estimate of CPR and the estimates from the 1998 NDHS and 2003 NDHS imply increasing contraceptive use by married women over the last decade: 47 percent in 1998, 49 percent in 2003, and 51 percent in 2008 (Table 2).

These estimates are subject to sampling errors since these are based on sample surveys, hence, the observed differences are not always significant. The increase in the CPR over the last decade, from 1998 to 2008, is statistically significant. However, the observed increase from 2003 to 2008 is not significant (Table 1).

Note that the confidence intervals for 2003 [47.6 50.1] and 2008 [49.4 52.0] have overlaps; thus a significant difference, or increase, between the two CPRs cannot be established.

3. Thirty-four percent of married women rely on a modern method, mostly the pill (16 percent) and female sterilization (9 percent). The use of the pill has increased in the past 5 years, from 13 percent in 2003 to 16 percent in 2008 (Table 3).

4. Users of modern natural family planning methods comprise less than one percent. Modern natural family planning methods include cervical mucus method or ovulation method or Billings method, standard days method (SDM) and lactational amenorrhea method (LAM). Seventeen percent of married women used a traditional method in 2008 compared to 16 percent in 2003, with the increase coming from the withdrawal method.

5. Even with government policy or in the absence of it,
• Significant gain in use of pills has been observed.
• The use of natural family planning methods has not increased significantly.
• About half of married women (49 percent) are still not using any method.

Kalahati ng mga babaeng kasal ay walang kahit na anong pampigil sa panggigigil.

[Please pardon how the three tables are presented. I have not discovered how to present these properly, after numerous attempts.]

Table 1. Contraceptive prevalence rates (CPR), with standard errors and confidence intervals, Philippines: 1998, 2003, 2008
Year/ CPR/ Standard Error/ Lower*/Upper*
1998/ 46.5/ 0.7/ 45.2/ 47.9
2003/ 48.9/ 0.6/ 47.6/ 50.1
2008/ 50.7/ 0.6/ 49.4/ 52.0

* 95 % Confidence Interval Boundaries
Sources: 1998, 2003 and 2008 National Demographic and Health Surveys

Table 2. Percentage of currently married women age 15-49 using modern and traditional family planning methods, Philippines 1973-2008
Survey/ Modern/ Traditional/ All
1973 National Demographic Survey1/ 10.7/ 6.7/ 17.4
1978 Republic of the Philippines Fertility Survey1/ 17.2/ 21.3/ 38.5
1983 National Demographic Survey1/ 18.9/ 13.1/ 32
1988 National Demographic Survey/ 21.6/ 14.5/ 36.1
1993 National Demographic Survey/ 24.9/ 15.1/ 40
1998 National Demographic and Health Survey/ 28.2/ 18.3/ 46.5
2003 National Demographic and Health Survey/ 33.4/ 15.5/ 48.9
2008 National Demographic and Health Survey/ 34.0/ 16.7/ 50.7
1 Calculated for currently married women 15-44 years

Table 3. Percent distribution of currently married women by contraceptive method used, Philippines: 2003, 2008
Method/ 2003/ 2008
Any method/ 48.9/ 50.7
Any modern method/ 33.4/ 34.0
Female sterilization/ 10.5/ 9.2
Male sterilization/ 0.1/ *
Pill/ 13.2/ 15.7
IUD/ 4.1/ 3.7
Injectables/ 3.1/ 2.6
Male condom/ 1.9/ 2.3
Mucus/Billings/Ovulation/ 0.1/ 0.1
Standard days method/ -/ *
LAM/ 0.3/ 0.4
Other modern methods/ -/ *
Any traditional method/ 15.5/ 16.7
Calendar/rhythm/periodic abstinence/ 6.7/ 6.4
Withdrawal/ 8.2/ 9.8
Other traditional method/ 0.6/ 0.4
Not currently using/ 51.1/ 49.3
Total/ 100.0/ 100.0
“*” denotes figure in the cell is less than 0.05 percent

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Pulse Asia’s February 2009 Survey on the May 2010 Elections: The Undecided

I am not in any way connected with Pulse Asia.  While going through their results, I found some interesting things about the ‘Undecided’ group.  For strategic think tanks seeking to swing the tide of opinion from one to the other, they should mine the data on the ‘Undecideds’ especially if the percentages show 20-30 percent incidence on particular issues.  The 2010 elections and Charter Change are examples.




Main Findings


For 65% of Filipinos, there is a big possibility that the next elections will push through according to schedule – a sentiment shared by small to big majorities (55% to 76%) across geographic areas and socio-economic classes.


A bare majority of Filipinos (51%) is of the opinion that the postponement or cancellation of the May 2010 elections will cause much trouble in the country.




Additional Findings: The Undecided


It would be helpful to look at the ‘Undecided’ group as this could be the swing vote to the issues at hand and can still be influenced in the political debate.  Already the group was less by about 10 percent from October 2008 to February 2009; more are making their stand.


Between October 2008 and February 2009 surveys, the notable shifts among the ‘Undecided’ are:


1. Possibility of 2010 elections:

There were less ‘undecided’ nationwide, from 30 percent in October 2008 down to 22 percent in February 2009.  In the Visayas, there were 16 percent less ‘undecided’; in Mindanao, 10 percent less; and in class E, 15 percent more.


An additional 6 percent nationwide felt that there is now a big possibility that the 2010 elections will push through. In the Visayas, there were 23 percent more who felt that there is a big possibility; in Mindanao, 11 percent more; and in socio-economic Class E, 15 percent more.


There were insignificant shifts in opinions among the undecided in NCR and the rest of Luzon, and Classes ABC and D from October 2008 to February 2009.


2. Much trouble, if no elections?

There were less ‘undecided’ nationwide, from 29 percent in October 2008 down to 21 percent in February 2009.  In the Rest of Luzon, there were 13 percent less ‘undecided’; in the Visayas, 9 percent less; in Class ABC, 9 percent less; and in class E, 15 percent less.


There was an almost even split from among the ranks of the ‘undecided’ in October 2008, to among those who foresaw much trouble if there were no elections in 2010 and to among those who did not in the Rest of Luzon and the Visayas. (February 2009) 


However among Classes ABC and E, there was a significant shift of the ‘undecided’ in October 2008 to among those who felt in February 2009 that much trouble would ensue if there were no elections in 2010.


It is interesting that the gain in Mindanao of those who foresaw much trouble in February 2009 came not from the ‘Undecided’, but from those who did not foresee such in October 2008.


Shifts have not been discernible in NCR as the percentage changes have remained the same (57 agree and 22 disagree) as of October 2008 to (55 agree and 23 disagree), in February 2009.  Class D ratios also essentially remained the same (49:25 agree:disagree  to 51:27)    


Events prior to or during the survey


Pulse Asia also reported that during the period prior to and the conduct of this survey, the news headlines focused on the alleged bribery of several officials from the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in relation to a drug case; the reported bid rigging behind road projects in the country being funded by the World Bank (WB); the planned automation of the May 2010 elections; the revival of congressional discussions on constitutional amendments; controversies involving the Supreme Court including the aborted plan to file impeachment charges against Chief Justice Reynato Puno; the closure of some companies and the laying off of workers both here and abroad; the Arroyo administration’s efforts to create jobs and provide assistance to laid off workers; and, the US Presidential election and the inauguration of President Barack Obama.


I would also add that the consumer price index (CPI) slowed down from 11.2 percent in October 08 down to 7.3 percent in February 09 due to stable food prices and lower fuel costs.   


Some pointed questions:

·         The news did not (significantly) move NCR nor class D (the masa), in spite of the bad, even scandal-ridden, news.

·         GMA’s spinmeisters making inroads among these groups? And/or people just getting more confused or indifferent? GMA being lucky with good weather and favorable price developments of crude oil?

·         Rallies in NCR not worth mounting at this time, with the masa feeling so-so? 

·         Mindanao residents and class E households tending to be more militant … and passionate about the 2010 elections.

·         Are the Cha-cha advocates reading into this?


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A target of 1 million (just any) jobs may not be enough.

1.  In October 2008, the unemployment rate rose to 6.8 percent from 6.3 percent a year ago.  In terms of workers, the unemployed increased by 279 thousand to 2.525 million.
2.  However the number of employed persons increased by 861 thousand in October 2008 compared to a year before.  [And last July 2008, the increase was 1.279 million]. 
The Malacanang target of a million jobs was essentially reached during the second semester of 2008.  And its spinmeisters kept mum on this or missed it altogether?
3.  The increases in the following sectors accumulated to the over 850 thousand mark:
•         Wholesale and retail trade, repair shops – 352 thousand
•         Construction (government-primed?) – 141 thousand
•         Public administration and defense, compulsory social security (emergency employment – street sweeping?)– 122 thousand
•         Real estate, renting and business activities (call centers) – 103 thousand
•         Agriculture, hunting and forestry (good weather?)– 93 thousand
4.  However there was a decrease of 146 thousand in manufacturing.
5.  Ciel Habito in his 28 December 2008 Philippine Daily Inquirer column wrote:
Ever notice how our economy has been behaving strangely lately? The latest strange (but welcome) behavior is how job generation based on the last two quarterly Labor Force Surveys (July and October 2008 ) appeared healthy even in the face of the world economic slowdown that has taken a definite toll on our economy.
6. My take: declining productivity, poor quality of jobs generated or stimulated by pump priming with little or no inter-industry linkages, and the usual culprit – low level of investments.  The economists would be in a better position to see through these disturbing trends.
Yes, even with a million jobs created, the unemployment rate can increase… and GDP growth can slow down …

Source of data – Labor Force Surveys conducted by the National Statistics Office quarterly.

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A Few Notes on the Structure of Philippine Employment

Workers in agriculture have shifted to the service sectors
1.  The (per cent) share of employment in agriculture, fisheries and forestry has been declining.
1987 (July) – 47.8
1998 (July) – 38.2
2001 (July) – 37.5
2004 (July) – 36.2
2008 (July) – 35.5
2.  The service sector has apparently received the loss in employment in agriculture.

 (in percent)
1987 (July) – 37.6
1998 (July) – 44.9
2001 (July) – 46.7
2004 (July) – 48.2
2008 (July) – 50.2
In July 2008, job-seekers have found work in
•         Wholesale and retail trade, repair shops   – 38 percent of total services employment
•         Transport, storage and communication – 14.5 percent
•         Private households with employed persons – 11 percent
•         Public administration and defense, compulsory social security – 10 percent
and, in terms of job quality,
•         Wholesale and retail trade, repair shops   – 68 percent (about 2 out of 3) are self-employed or unpaid family worker and worked an average of 51 hours a week
•         Transport, storage and communication – 44 percent (over 2 out of 5) are self-employed or unpaid family worker and worked an average of 50 hours a week
•         Private households with employed persons – all were salaried or wage workers and worked an average of 54 hours a week
•         Public administration and defense, compulsory social security – all were salaried or wage (roadside?) workers and worked an average of 39 hours a week
3. The (percent) share of employment in the industry sectors (mining and quarrying; manufacturing; electricity, gas and water; and construction) has gone up and slid back to its level 20 years ago.
1987 (July) – 14.6
1998 (July) – 16.9
2001 (July) – 16.05
2004 (July) – 15.6
2008 (July) – 14.8
•         In manufacturing, the share (to total employment) has been on the way down.
2001 (July) – 10.0
2004 (July) – 9.7
2008 (July) – 8.5
•         The share of construction (to total employment) has been constant.
2001 (July) – 5.3
2004 (July) – 5.2
2008 (July) – 5.4

Source of data:  various Labor force Surveys conducted by the National Statistics Office

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