SWS: More families see themselves ‘borderline food-poor’ compared to 2019

By: Gabriel Pabico Lalu - Inquirer.net | December 15,2020 - 08:18 AM

MANILA, Philippines — More Filipino families have rated themselves as “borderline food-poor” compared to previous surveys in 2019, a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey revealed on Monday.

From just 28 percent of families who believe they were “borderline food-poor” in December 2019  — or that the food they eat is a characteristic of borderline poor families — SWS said that the number has jumped to 47 percent as of November 2020.

This is higher than the March 2019 data, wherein 46 percent described themselves as borderline food-poor.  However, during that time, only 27 percent of families rated themselves as food-poor, while 26 percent said they were not.

Currently, 31 percent said they are food-poor, while only 22 percent said they are not food poor — a 15 percentage-point decrease from the December 2019 numbers.

“In December 2019, there were 35% that felt Food-Poor, 28% that felt Borderline Food-Poor, and 37% that felt Not Food-Poor,” the SWS said.

“From December 2019 to November 2020, the borderline-food-poor grew by 19 points, consisting of 4 points that climbed up from below, and 15 points that fell down from above,” it added.

Borderline food-poor ratings rose in all locales except for Metro Manila, while not food-poor claims went down in all areas; however, the most significant movements can be found in Luzon and Visayas.

In Luzon, those who thought they were not food-poor in December 2019 were at 50 percent; by November 2020 they were only at 28 percent.  Also, only 25 percent considered themselves borderline food-poor before, but it has surged to 47 percent.

Visayas numbers are somewhat different because the number of food-poor families actually decreased, from 46 percent in 2019 to 39 percent.  But the number of non-food-poor families also decreased from 23 percent to just 11 percent, while those in the borderline category rose from 31 percent to 50 percent.

In Mindanao, it is unclear whether the situation improved as the number of food poor families went down from 50 percent in December 2019 to just 33 percent in November 2020, but the non-food-poor families also shrank from 14 percent to five percent.

Borderline food-poor for Mindanao went up twice, from 36 percent to 62 percent.

This data on food poverty is a part of SWS’ survey on self-rated poverty, which is also the first time the research firm conducted face-to-face interviews since the COVID-19 reached the country’s shores.

But unlike self-rated poverty, in food poverty, respondents are asked to ascertain whether they are poor, not poor, or borderline poor based on the food they regularly eat.

Earlier, it was reported that at least 48 percent of Filipino families feel they are poor, while 36 percent say they are borderline poor, and only 16 percent saying they are not poor

The high poverty rates in terms of self-rating were the latest figures from SWS to show that a lot of Filipinos were badly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic’s economic effects.

As the COVID-19 pandemic forced the government to place Luzon and other areas on a lockdown while restricting travel and closing non-essential businesses, a lot of people lost their jobs and their means of livelihood.

People who rely on daily wages and earnings were left without any income through the quarantine periods.  While the government provided subsidies for around 18 million families, a lot of people have insisted that the social amelioration program was not enough.

Last August, SWS noted that unemployment rates shot to highs of 45.5 percent due to the health crisis, with an estimated 2 in 5 Filipinos losing their jobs.  This came after the finance sector admitted that the country’s economy went into recession, with the gross domestic product shrinking by 16.5 percent in the second quarter.

READ: Adult unemployment reaches record-high 45.5% in July — SWS

READ: Officially a recession: PH GDP shrank 16.5% in Q2

The SWS said that 1,500 adults were interviewed for this survey, with 600 of those coming from Balance Luzon and 300 each from Metro Manila, Visayas, and Mindanao.

The SWS maintains sampling error margins of ±2.5% for national percentages, ±4% for Balance Luzon, and ±6% for Metro Manila, the Visayas, and Mindanao. / MUF

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