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Self-rated poverty stays at 50%, SWS survey shows

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MANILA, Philippines — Filipino families who said they were poor numbered 10.8 million in September, while a smaller number of 7.9 million families described themselves as poor in terms of food, according to a recent survey by Social Weather Stations (SWS).

The nationwide survey, conducted from September 20 to 30 and first published in BusinessWorld, showed that 50 percent of the respondents rated themselves as poor, from 49 percent or 10.4 million households in June. It also found that 37 percent said they were food-poor, from 40 percent or 8.5 million in the previous quarter.

“Self-rated poverty was not significantly different from the previous quarter [or] from the four-quarter average of 2012,” SWS said. “But self-rated food poverty was the lowest of [the] past four quarters, and significantly less than the average of 2012.”

Last year, self-rated poverty and food poverty averaged 52 percent and 41 percent, respectively.

SWS roughly attributed the generally unchanged poverty figure to a drop in the number of poor families in Balance Luzon that was offset by a jump in Mindanao, while the improvement in food poverty was due to a big decrease in Balance Luzon that more than made up for the slight increases in other areas.

In its survey on self-rated poverty, SWS asked 1,200 household heads nationwide to plot their family on a card with indicators stating “not poor,” “on the line” and “poor.” The survey’s margin of error was plus or minus three percentage points for national percentages.

Self-rated poverty in Balance Luzon fell by six points from 48 percent in September to 42 percent in June, with the percentage in this area hitting above 40 percent in 10 out of 13 surveys since September 2010.

In Mindanao, self-rated poverty jumped by 14 points from 47 percent to 61 percent, but SWS said the latest figure was six points below last year’s average of 67 percent.

Poverty also rose in Metro Manila (from 40 percent to 44 percent) and in the Visayas (from 57 percent to 62 percent). According to SWS, the poverty rate in the Visayas has been above 60 percent in eight out of 13 surveys since September 2010 while it remained beyond 40 percent in Metro Manila in nine surveys.

For self-rated food poverty, the respondents were asked to plot their family on a card indicating whether they were “not poor,” “on the line” or “poor” on the basis of their food situation over the past three months.

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