Jump to content

Poverty in the Philippines

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Share of population in extreme poverty (1981–2019)

In 2021, official government statistics reported that the Philippines had a poverty rate of 18.1%,[1] (or roughly 19.99 million Filipinos), significantly lower than the 49.2 percent recorded in 1985 through years of government poverty reduction efforts.[2] From 2018 to 2021, an estimated 2.3 million Filipinos fell into poverty amid the economic recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.[3]

In 2018, the rate of decline of poverty has been slower compared with other East Asian Countries,[4] such as People's Republic of China (PRC), Thailand, Indonesia, or Vietnam. National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) deputy director general Rosemarie Edillon attributed this to a generally low and stable inflation, improved incomes and higher employment rates during the period.[5] In 2022, the poverty situation in the Philippines has seen a steady ease[6]

Some of the many causes of poverty are bad governance, corruption, a political system dominated by political dynasties, vulnerability to environmental disasters, and the lack of available jobs.


As of 2022, the Philippine Statistics Authority has set the poverty threshold at PHP12,030 per month for a family of five, or PHP79 per day per person to spend on food and non-food requirements.[1][7]


As of 2021, about 19.99 million Filipinos lived in poverty.[1] Through various anti-poverty programs, such as the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform, Lingap Para sa Mahirap, and the Social Reform Agenda, the Philippines has been through a long battle to ameliorate that statistic. Despite these governmental efforts, the Millennium Development Goal milestone of reduction in poverty has been a slow process.[8][unreliable source?]


People living in poverty in the Philippines are most likely self-employed farmers, fisherfolk, or other agricultural workers. Three-quarters of these people live in severe disaster-risk areas that are highly rural. In 2015, about 58 percent of poor households have more than six members. Education overall has improved over time; from the ages of 15–24, over 75 percent have completed secondary education or above in 2015.[9] Specifically in poor households, however, over 60 percent of families have education only up to elementary school.[10]

As of 2022, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao has the highest incidence of poverty in the country at 37.2% while Metro Manila has the lowest at 3.5%.[11][12]

Children in the Philippines are particularly vulnerable to the effects of poverty and suffer high rates of mortality for those below 5 years old.[13] The UNICEF and World Bank reported that as of 2022, more than 32 million children were living in poverty in the Philippines, including 5 million children living in extreme poverty.[14]

Over 10 million women live in poverty in the Philippines.[15]


The Philippines ranked 69th out of 121 countries in the Global Hunger Index of 2022, with the level of hunger described as "moderate".[16] According to a 2018 study by the United Nations World Food Programme, while nearly all households in the Philippines can afford a diet that provides enough energy, only one third of the overall population can afford a diet that provides sufficient nutrients.[17] Around 2.9 million Filipino families experienced hunger in the third quarter of 2022, according to a survey by the Social Weather Stations.[18]


Out of the country's population of about 106 million, an estimated 4.5 million were homeless according to the Philippine Statistics Authority; of these, 3 million were in the capital Manila.[19][20]

Causes of poverty[edit]

Poverty in the Philippines has been linked to bad governance, corruption, and a political system dominated by political dynasties.[21][22] The country's poorest provinces are ruled by political dynasties.[23][24]

Natural disasters have exacerbated poverty in the Philippines.[25] Natural disasters in the Philippines have caused US$23 billion in damages since 1990, which continues to delay the development process.[10] The frequent occurrences of typhoons cost the country lives, illness, malnutrition, and denial of education and health services. Filipino farmers are some of the most vulnerable, because floods and landslides severely affect their crops and income.[26]

The poorest populations work in agriculture and live in areas prone to natural disasters compared to the wealthier population. There is an inadequate number of available good jobs, and a lack of investment in education that leads to such a high inequality of income. However, the government has plans focused on reducing poverty with objectives of improving the lives of the poorest segments of the population.[27]

The pattern of poverty growth is common in rural areas, but there has been a rise in poverty in urban areas. Cities in the Philippines have been faced with an increase in poverty due to lack of well-paid employment.[28]

Comparison to other Southeast Asian countries[edit]

According to data provided by the World Bank, economic growth in the Philippines competes sufficiently with the GDP per capita percent growth of neighboring countries; the Philippine GDP per capita in 2021 was $3,548.8 compared to 3,694.0 in Vietnam, and 4,291.8 in Indonesia.[29] Declination of poverty is slower in the Philippines because urbanization and industrialization is progressing faster elsewhere. This advancement allows people to leave their agricultural-based work to a factory job with a higher paying income. The country has made movement out of the labor-intensive work in populous regions, such as Manila, however the country as a whole has made slower improvements. In addition to slow progress, natural disasters in the Philippines is one of the biggest conductors of poverty. While other countries are able to develop without consistent disturbances, the Philippines is forced to start from the ground up after every single occurrence.[10]

The Economist in 2017 stated that the Philippines' poverty reduction has lagged far behind China, Vietnam, and Thailand. Growth is also concentrated in Manila while other provinces in the country are neglected and hardly progress.[30]

Poverty reduction[edit]

Poverty rate declines[edit]

According to the World Bank, poverty rates declined from 26.6 percent in 2006 to 21.6 percent in 2015.[31] The country has attempted to increase income and opportunities and reverse impacts of occurring natural disasters. The Philippine Development Plan of 2017–2022[32] and the AmBisyon Natin 2040 are proposals for the nation to decrease poverty and improve the lives of the poorest population.[33] These policies include creating more and better jobs, improving productivity, investing in health and nutrition, managing disaster risks, protecting the vulnerable, and more. These documents help set the overall goal of reducing poverty to 13–15 percent by 2022 and having the nation thrive at similar levels as surrounding countries. The strategic plans that the Philippine government has created are intended to work towards a middle-class society where poverty is reduced and living conditions are improved.[10]

Drivers of poverty reduction[edit]

The main drivers between 2006 and 2015 were an increase in wage income and movement of employment out of agriculture, government transfers, and remittance from domestic and foreign sources according to the World Bank publication, Making Growth Work for the Poor. Movement from agricultural jobs to lower-end industry jobs led to increase of wages and accounted for 50 percent of the reduction in poverty. The majority of farm workers and fishers have remained poor, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.[34]

Due to the Pantawid Pamilya, the government was able to use the social assistance which resulted in the contribution of 25 percent reduction of poverty as well as influence behavior change. Remittances from domestic and foreign sources accounted for 12 percent of the reduction in poverty.

In addition, a factor of the declination of poverty is the growth of population. With a 1.7 percent increase of population a year has resulted in a 3.8 percent increase in per capita GDP growth. An additional factor is an increase of school enrollment and decrease of dropout rates. Despite a lack of distribution, the water, sanitation and electricity of the Philippines have also improved. Other socioeconomic indicators such as social safety nets and health insurance has also been beneficial factors.[10] In addition, drivers of reduction also include the influx of economic expansion that has grown the economy.[35]

Programs for the economic welfare of children and women will be subject to significant budget cuts under the Philippines government's proposed budget for 2024.[14]

Poverty during the COVID-19 pandemic[edit]

From 2018 to 2021, amid the economic recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, an estimated 2.3 million Filipinos fell into poverty;[36] this has been attributed in part to lockdowns enacted to control the spread of the disease[37][36][3] and possibly exacerbated by poor governance.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Proportion of Poor Filipinos was Recorded at 18.1 Percent in 2021". Philippine Statistics Authority. August 15, 2022. Archived from the original on August 16, 2022. Retrieved November 8, 2022.
  2. ^ Overcoming Poverty and Inequality in the Philippines; Past, Present, and Prospects for the Future (PDF). The World Bank (Report). p. 3. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 6, 2022. Retrieved April 2, 2023.
  3. ^ a b Royandoyan, Ramon (August 15, 2022). "Pandemic pulls more Filipinos back to poverty in 2021". The Philippine Star. Archived from the original on August 15, 2022. Retrieved November 10, 2022.
  4. ^ "Making growth work for the poor : a poverty assessment for the Philippines". World Bank Group. January 1, 2018. p. 26 – via documents.worldbank.org.
  5. ^ "Poverty incidence drops to 21.6%". Philippine Daily Inquirer. October 28, 2016. Archived from the original on January 20, 2018.
  6. ^ Staff, Governance (October 17, 2022). "WB: PH poverty level to ease to 17.1% in '22 -". Retrieved August 8, 2023.
  7. ^ "Invisible poverty, trivial solutions". IBON Foundation. August 22, 2022. Retrieved March 2, 2023.
  8. ^ Bayudan-Dacuycuy, Connie. "Chronic and Transient Poverty and Vulnerability to Poverty in the Philippines: Evidence Using a Simple Spells Approach". ResearchGate.
  9. ^ "Philippines' Poverty Rate Declines; More Well-Paying Jobs and Opportunities Needed". World Bank.
  10. ^ a b c d e "Making growth work for the poor : a poverty assessment for the Philippines". The World Bank. January 1, 2018.
  11. ^ a b Palatino, Mong (September 7, 2022). "Making Sense of the Philippines' Latest Poverty Statistics". The Diplomat. Retrieved February 16, 2023.
  12. ^ Mercado, Neil Arwin (August 15, 2022). "PH poverty incidence rises to 18.1% in 2021; 19.99 million Filipinos considered poor". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved February 16, 2023.
  13. ^ "Child Poverty in the Philippines". UNICEF. 2015. Retrieved March 2, 2023.
  14. ^ a b Banzuelo, Neil (September 13, 2023). "5M Filipino kids lived in extreme poverty in 2022 — UN report". BusinessWorld Online. Retrieved September 16, 2023.
  15. ^ "Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment in the Philippines" (PDF). United Nations Development Programme. September 2010. Retrieved May 13, 2023.
  16. ^ "Philippines". Global Hunger Index (GHI) - peer-reviewed annual publication designed to comprehensively measure and track hunger at the global, regional, and country levels. Retrieved February 12, 2023.
  17. ^ "Fill the Nutrient Gap - Philippines Summary Report". World Food Programme. November 2018. Retrieved February 12, 2023.
  18. ^ de Leon, Dwight (October 29, 2022). "SWS: 2.9 million Filipinos stay hungry in October 2022". Rappler. Retrieved February 16, 2023.
  19. ^ Chandran, Rina (March 28, 2018). "Manila's homeless set to move into more empty homes if official handover delayed". Reuters. Archived from the original on October 19, 2021. Retrieved June 20, 2021.
  20. ^ Fealtman, Erica (July 24, 2020). "The Impact of COVID-19 on Homelessness in the Philippines". Borgen Magazine. Archived from the original on June 27, 2021. Retrieved June 20, 2021.
  21. ^ Panti, Llanesca (January 26, 2023). "Experts: 1987 Constitution not the problem, but the solution". GMA News Online. Retrieved February 19, 2023.
  22. ^ Mendoza, Ronald; Beja, Edsel; Venida, Victor; Yap, David (January 1, 2013). "Political dynasties and poverty: Evidence from the Philippines". Ateneo School of Government Publications.
  23. ^ Burgos Jr., Nestor P. (September 26, 2011). "Philippines areas under dynasties are poorest– Study". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved February 19, 2023.
  24. ^ Ordinario, Cai U. (August 20, 2015). "Pervasive political dynasty worsened poverty in PHL | Cai U. Ordinario". BusinessMirror. Retrieved February 19, 2023.
  25. ^ Jha, Shikha; Martinez, Arturo; Quising, Pilipinas; Ardaniel, Zemma; Wang, Limin (March 2018). "Natural Disasters, Public Spending, and Creative Destruction: A Case Study of the Philippines" (PDF). ADBI Working Paper Series. ADB South Asia Working Paper Series. Tokyo: Asian Development Bank Institute. Summary and Concluding Remarks. doi:10.22617/WPS189514-2. S2CID 169632846. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 28, 2019. Retrieved November 10, 2022.
  26. ^ "Philippine farmers struggle to rebuild lives after typhoon decimates crops". Reuters. September 24, 2018 – via www.reuters.com.
  27. ^ "Philippines' Poverty Rate Declines; More Well-Paying Jobs and Opportunities Needed". World Bank. Retrieved November 22, 2019.
  28. ^ "EXTREME POVERTY IN THE PHILIPPINES". Archived from the original on November 2, 2014.
  29. ^ "GDP per capita (current US$) - Philippines". The World Bank. Archived from the original on August 22, 2022. Retrieved November 10, 2022.
  30. ^ "The Philippines has the most persistent poverty in South-East Asia". The Economist. November 25, 2017.
  31. ^ "Understanding the Philippine poverty report". The Philippine Daily Inquirer. April 14, 2019.
  32. ^ Laforga, Beatrice M. (January 25, 2021). "Gov't hopes to achieve key development goals by 2022". BusinessWorld. Archived from the original on November 10, 2022. Retrieved November 10, 2022.
  33. ^ "Ambitious Vision to End Poverty in the Philippines by 2040". Asian Development Bank. November 16, 2016. Archived from the original on August 4, 2019. Retrieved November 10, 2022.
  34. ^ "Fishermen, Farmers and Children remain the poorest basic sectors". Philippine Statistics Authority. July 4, 2014. Retrieved February 12, 2023.
  35. ^ "Philippines Overview". World Bank. Archived from the original on October 26, 2022. Retrieved November 10, 2022.
  36. ^ a b "Pandemic pushed millions more into poverty in the Philippines, government says". Reuters. August 15, 2022. Retrieved February 19, 2023.
  37. ^ Leyco, Chino (December 8, 2020). "2.7 million slip into poverty in 2020". Manila Bulletin. Retrieved March 2, 2023.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]