20 October 2010; First reported in BusinessWorld, 18 October 2010
Third Quarter 2010 Social Weather Survey: Hunger eases to 15.9% of families; 48% rate themselves as Mahirap or Poor
The Third Quarter 2010 Social Weather Survey, fielded over September 24-27, 2010, found the proportion of families experiencing involuntary hunger at least once in the past three months easing to 15.9%, or an estimated 3.0 million families, after being over 20% in the past three quarters.
The latest Hunger figure is similar to the level of February 2009, and is 2 points above the twelve-year average of 13.9% [Chart 1, Table 1]. Hunger has consistently been at double-digits for over six years, since June 2004.
The measure of Hunger refers to involuntary suffering because the respondents answer a survey question that specifies hunger due to lack of anything to eat.
The September 2010 survey also found that 48% (estimated 9.0 million) families consider themselves as Mahirap or Poor, 2 points down from 50% in June [Chart 2, Table 2], and 39% (estimated 7.1 million) consider themselves as Food-Poor, unchanged from the previous quarter [Chart 3, Table 3].
Severe Hunger at 3.1%, Moderate Hunger at 12.9%
The 5-point decline in Overall Hunger between June and September 2010 resulted from a 4-point decline in Moderate Hunger, combined with a 1-point decline in Severe Hunger.
Moderate Hunger, referring to those who experienced it “Only Once” or “A Few Times” in the last three months, declined from 16.9% (est. 3.2 million families) in June to 12.9% (est. 2.4 million families) in September. The few who did not state their frequency of Hunger were also placed in this category.
Severe Hunger, referring to those who experienced it “Often” or “Always” in the last three months, declined from 4.2% (est. 780,000 families) in June to 3.1% (est. 575,000 families) in September.
Hunger declined in all areas
Overall Hunger fell by almost 10 points in Mindanao, from 26.0% (est. 1.1 million families) in June to 16.3% (est. 700,000 families) in September, and by almost 6 points in the Visayas, from 21.0% (est. 790,000 families) to 15.3% (est. 580,000 families) [Chart 4, Table 4].
It declined by almost 4 points in Balance Luzon, from 18.3% (est. 1.5 million families) to 14.7% (est. 1.2 million families), and by almost 2 points in Metro Manila, from 22.0% (est. 550,000 families) in June to 20.3% in September (est. 507,000 families).
Moderate Hunger declined by almost 8 points in Mindanao, from 21.0% in June to 13.3% in September, and by almost 6 points in the Visayas, from 17.3% to 11.7% [Charts 5 to 8, Tables 5 to 8].
It declined by almost 2 points in Balance Luzon, from 14.0% to 12.3%, and by over 3 points in Metro Manila, from 19.0% to 15.7%.
The new Moderate Hunger rates are still higher than their 12-year averages for all areas.
Severe Hunger declined by 2 points in Mindanao, from 5.0% in June to 3.0% in September, and by 2 points in Balance Luzon, from 4.3% to 2.3%.
It stayed at 3.7% in the Visayas, and rose by almost 2 points in Metro Manila, from 3.0% to 4.7%.
The new Severe Hunger rates are higher than their 12-year averages in Metro Manila and the Visayas, and lower in Balance Luzon and Mindanao.
Self-rated Poverty and Food Poverty
Self-Rated Poverty declined by 4 points in Balance Luzon, from 44% in June to 40% in September, and by 3 points in Mindanao, from 56% to 53% [Chart 9, Table 9].
It rose by 3 points in the Visayas, from 58% to 61%, and by one point in Metro Manila, from 48% to 49%.
It declined by 3 points in rural areas, from 58% to 55%, and by one point in urban areas, from 44% to 43% [Chart 10, Table 10].
Self-Rated Food Poverty fell by 12 points in Mindanao, from 48% in June to 36% to September [Chart 11, Table 11].
It rose by 6 points in Metro Manila, from 35% to 41%, by 5 points in the Visayas, from 45% to 50%, and by one point in Balance Luzon, from 31% to 32%.
Poverty thresholds remain sluggish everywhere
The Self-Rated Poverty Threshold, or the monthly budget that poor households need in order not to consider themselves poor in general, remain sluggish for several years despite considerable inflation. This indicates that poor families have been lowering their living standards, i.e., belt-tightening.
As of September 2010, the median poverty threshold for poor households is P10,000 in Metro Manila, P9,500 in Balance Luzon, P6,000 in the Visayas, and P5,000 in Mindanao. These amounts have already been surpassed in the past in those areas [Chart 12, Table 12].
The median food-poverty threshold for poor households is P6,000 in Metro Manila, P4,000, in Balance Luzon, P3,000 in the Visayas, and P3,000 in Mindanao. These amounts had already been surpassed several years ago [Chart 13, Table 13].
Measurement of belt-tightening
In Metro Manila in particular, the median poverty threshold went back to P10,000 as in 2000, even though the Consumer Price Index (CPI) has risen there by 60% since.
The NCR median poverty threshold of P10,000 per month for September 2010 is equivalent to only P6,146 in base year 2000 purchasing power, after deflation by the CPI. The deflated poverty threshold for NCR of below P10,000 per month is a throwback to living standards of over ten years ago [Chart 14, Table 14].
In four SWS surveys in 2000, the base year of the CPI, the median SWS poverty threshold for NCR was already P10,000 per month, equivalent to P 16,270 per month at the September 2010 cost of living, given the CPI of 162.7. The difference of P16,270 – P 10,000 = P6,270 between the thresholds of 2000 and September 2010 measures the extent of belt-tightening that took place.
On the other hand, median food poverty threshold of P6,000 in Metro Manila is equivalent to only P3,883 in base year 2000 purchasing power for food [Chart 15, Table 15].
The median food poverty threshold in December 2000 was P6,000 for Metro Manila. It is equivalent to P9,270 per month at the September 2010 cost of food, given the latest CPI of 154.5 for food items. The difference of P9,270 – P6,000 = P3,270 between the food thresholds of 2000 and September 2010 is the extent of belt-tightening made by food-poor Metro Manila households.
The September 2010 Social Weather Survey was conducted from September 24-27, 2010 using face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults in Metro Manila, the Balance of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao (sampling error margins of ±3% for national percentages, ±6% for area percentages).
The area estimates were weighted by National Statistics Office medium-population projections for 2010 to obtain the national estimates.
The SWS survey questions about the family’s experience of hunger, self-rated poverty, and self-rated food-poverty are directed to the household head. These items are non-commissioned, and are always included on SWS’s own initiative and released as a public service, with first printing rights assigned to BusinessWorld.
SWS employs its own staff for questionnaire design, sampling, fieldwork, data-processing, and analysis, and does not outsource any of its survey operations.
Social Weather Stations
52 Malingap St., Sikatuna Village, Diliman, Quezon City 1101
Tel: (632) 924-4465/56
Fax: (632) 920-2181
SWS website: http://www.sws.org.ph
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