Poverty Incidence Worsens To 18.1% In 2021
The preliminary results of the Family Income and Expenditure Survey for 2021 shows that poverty incidence rose to 18.1 percent equivalent to 19.99 million Filipinos living below the poverty threshold of about P12,030 per month.
Nearly 20 million Filipinos were considered poor last year after a 1.4 percent increase in poverty incidence, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
National statistician Dennis Mapa said at a press conference on Monday, Aug. 15, the poverty incidence among the population – or the proportion of Filipinos whose per capita income cannot sufficiently meet the individual basic food and non-food needs – was at 18.1 percent in 2021, up from the 16.7 percent in 2018. This translates to 19.99 million Filipinos who were considered poor last year, higher than the 17.67 million in 2018.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said this means last year’s poverty incidence fell short of the 15.5 to 17.5 percent target for 2021 indicated in the updated Philippine Development Plan for 2017 to 2022.
“The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, including income and employment losses, caused the poverty incidence to rise,” he added. In addition, Balisacan noted mobility restrictions and the low earning capacity of poor households, due to limited access to regular and productive jobs, made the lives of Filipinos difficult. The poverty threshold or estimated average income needed to meet the basic food and non-food needs of a family with five members rose 11.8 percent to P12,030 per month last year from P10,756 in 2018.
Among families, the poverty incidence increased to 13.2 percent, with around 3.50 million families who were considered poor in 2021, from 12.1 percent or three million poor families in 2018. The data is based on the preliminary results of the Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES) conducted every three years, with the latest round covering 165,029 families.
Mapa said the next round of the FIES would be conducted next year, as the PSA board approved having poverty statistics reported every two years. Subsistence incidence, or the proportion of Filipinos whose income is not enough to meet just the basic food needs, climbed to 5.9 percent in 2021 from 5.2 percent in 2018.
PSA estimated that a family with five members needs at least P8,379 per month to meet their basic food requirements.
By region, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao had the highest poverty incidence among families at 29.8 percent last year.
Meanwhile, the National Capital Region saw the lowest poverty incidence among families at 2.2 percent in 2021. The government is aiming to bring down the poverty incidence among Filipinos to nine percent by 2028 or by the end of the term of the current administration. “By mid-term of this administration, we aim to reduce, to take away five percentage points from that 18 percent and another four percentage points to reach nine percent poverty incidence by 2028,” Balisacan said.
He said there are challenges, however, to meeting the target such as rising inflation, which quickened to 6.4 percent in July, the highest in nearly four years.
“We do know that we have a tough road ahead, but we are already prepared to face these challenges head on,” he said.
To reduce poverty, he said the government would focus on full reopening of the economy, encouraging more investments in human capital, social development and social protection, and trans-forming production sectors to generate more and quality jobs and competitive products.